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Construction begins on Gold Star Families memorial

Oct 23 2020
Annie Charnley Eveland | Union Bulletin

Coronavirus quarantine protocols delayed launching construction of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in spring. But intent on seeing it come to fruition, work at the site where Myra and The Dalles Military roads meet commenced on Oct. 15, reported GSFMM Board Chair Penelope “Penny” Linterman.

Work is “proceeding at a solid pace to completion before winter,” Penny said in a release.

OM Stone in Hillsboro, Oregon, completed building the monument nearly a year ago. Once the grading, forms, concrete work and curing of the concrete is done, the monument will be delivered.

“We anticipate that shipment will occur in November and the landscaping will be complete at about the same time,” Penny said.

She added that plans for an appropriate, safe dedication celebration conforming to required rules for public gatherings are underway and will be announced later.

More than $90,000 for the project was raised by March, surpassing the $80,000 goal. That will provide a reserve for the monument site maintenance fund, Penny said.

In addition to an outpouring of cash for the local project, an abundance of in-kind donations came from Joe Murar Engineering and Design, Inc., PBS Engineering and Environmental, Inc., Walla Walla Electric, Nelson Construction Corp., Koncrete Industries, Don Jackson Excavation, Dax Moreno Construction, Three Sons Concrete and Smith Brothers Landscaping, LLC.

Penny expressed gratitude to those in the community who contributed to the project to honor all Gold Star Families with the tribute.

Monument board members have been deeply involved raising funds for the project and include Gil Alden, chaplain at the Washington State Penitentiary and public speaking; Nancy Boudreaux, treasurer; Greg and Susan Fazzari, Gold Star Parents, public speaking; and Dixie Ferguson, American Red Cross, community relations.

“All board members have tirelessly assisted with all of the activities bringing this project to completion, reached out to their personal friends and contacts and families, generating ideas and assisting with media materials,” Penny said.

The site will contain a 35-foot tall lighted flagpole. Lit from all sides, the monument will be fully visible at night to passersby, Penny said. Two curved, matching, black granite benches will provide seating on the interior side of the monument for reflection.

There are 71 memorial monuments dedicated, 49 states and countries represented and another 72 monuments in progress, according to the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation online.

In Washington state, monuments are also planned for Lacey, Lynnwood and Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent and one in Oregon at Bend. Washington state has a completed one at Forks.

The HWWMHF originally intended to establish a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Woody’s home state of West Virginia. Once completed, a new mission became clear to Woody and those at the foundation to establish monuments in as many communities as possible in all 50 states.

Messages on the two-sided black granite monuments read, “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom.” Across the four granite panels on the other side are Homeland, Family, Patriot and Sacrifice. The panel scenes reflect on each community’s Gold Star Families and their fallen heroes. A saluting silhouette represents the loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.