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Dedication of Walla Walla’s Gold Star Families Memorial Monument set for Friday, April 15

Apr 10 2022
Annie Charnley Eveland | Union-Bulletin

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument dedication will be 1 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the corner of The Dalles Military and Myra roads.

“We finally are having the dedication ceremony,” said Penelope Linterman. “COVID really derailed our event, but we are on track now.”

A reception will follow the ceremony with refreshments provided by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Susan and Greg Fazzari.

Parking is available on the south side of The Dalles Military Road from the dog park to the bus stop, in the lower lot by the skateboard park and at the physical therapy office across from the site and SonBridge plus along both sides of Dalles Military west of the State Farm office to SonBridge.

These monuments, sprinkled around the nation, are tributes to Gold Star families whose loved ones died in the line of duty. They honor the service members’ ultimate sacrifice and acknowledge their families’ loss, grief and continued healing, as stated on one side of the memorial.

The reverse side of the monument is personal to this area, Linterman said.

An image superimposed on the granite of the Walla Walla Valley represents “Homeland,” an image of 1st Lt. Mat Fazzari kissing his son Dominic represents “Family.” The “Patriot” image of the iconic flag-raising on Iwo Jima during World War II honors Hershel “Woody” Williams, who fought valiantly on the island that day. The final image for “Sacrifice” is a folded flag being presented to next of kin, Linterman said.

Installation was completed in late 2020. “The color images of the flag are a special process where the color is lasered into the granite, so it’s permanent and cannot be defaced,” she said.

“We raised over $100,000 in cash, but it’s difficult to estimate the donated materials and expertise from local construction companies,” Linterman said. “They were very generous and absolutely devoted to seeing it through.

“When I thanked the workers in person, each said it was their honor to participate.” She estimated companies that worked on the project probably made another $75,000 of in-kind donations.

She expects attendance at the event to include officials from Louisville, Kentucky, active and retired military, about 16 Gold Star families from Washington state, Washington State Gold Star Mothers from Seattle, the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle flag group from Tri-Cities, local dignitaries and construction company members who assisted in achieving the goal.

Williams’ grandson, Chad Graham, also president and CEO of The Hershel “Woody” Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation, will represent the foundation at the event.

Williams, 98, is the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, following the death of Charles H. Coolidge on April 6, 2021.

Williams is a retired U.S. Marine Corps warrant officer and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs veterans service representative.

He received the U.S. military’s highest decoration of valor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the brutal Battle of Iwo Jima in the South Pacific. See for the incredible accounting.

He “will be here for the ceremony and likely it’s his last visit to see us,” Linterman said.

Williams founded The Hershel “Woody” Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation and the Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments,

He started the Gold Star Families project in 2010. His goal to place a monument in all 50 states has been reached, and more are being constructed.