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New monument at Pensacola's Veterans Memorial Park honors Gold Star families

Nov 11 2020
Tanner Stewart | WEAR TV

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. -- The newest monument at Veterans Memorial Park in Pensacola honoring those left behind was unveiled on Wednesday.

It's called the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

Wednesday's ceremony in Pensacola focused on all veterans of course, but also emphasized honoring Gold Star families. The new monument is the 75th Gold Star memorial in the U.S.

Jill Hubbs is on the board of the Veterans Memorial Park foundation and a Gold Star daughter -- her father, a Naval aviator, is still missing in Vietnam.

“It’s really inspiring to show this many people here," Hubbs said. “Gold Star families are a special breed and we bond to each other because even though our stories are different, we all have a bond.”

That bond is shared by Navarre resident Ashley Lukasiewicz. Her husband was 29-year-old Marine Captain Dustin Lukasiewicz, who was killed in 2015 during a rescue mission in Nepal.

She says one of the driving forces in staying involved with other Gold Star families are her children, who have no memory of their father.

“I do it for my kids and I do it to preserve his legacy," Lukasiewicz said. "I’m here representing him because he can’t represent himself. ...I miss him not being able to see his kids, and he never was able to meet his son, so I really miss that. He’ll never be able to have that chance.”

Wednesday’s event was highlighted by a national hero -- Hershel “Woody” Williams, who is one of only two surviving veterans to receive the Medal of Honor in WWII.

Williams fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945 by President Harry Truman. He’s dedicated his life to representing fallen soldiers and their families.