Legionnaire and Medal of Honor Recipient Woody Williams dedicates Gold Star Families Memorial.

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Legionnaire and Medal of Honor Recipient Woody Williams dedicates Gold Star Families Memorial.

Herschel “Woody” Williams, the last remaining Marine Medal of Honor Recipient from World War II dedicated his 50th Memorial to Gold Star Families on Tuesday, with the latest being on the grounds of the US Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Airbase just outside Dayton, OH. 

Woody and his Foundation hope to erect monuments to those who have lost family members in every state across the union, with an emphasis on trying to get them put up on the grounds of state capitols.   So far he has succeeded in his home state of West Virginia as well as Arkansas and Louisiana.

From the Woody Williams Foundation website:

The purpose of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is to honor Gold Star Families, preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that Freedom is not free. This stunning black granite monument features two sides. One side bears the words: Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who have sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom. The other side tells a story through the four granite panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. The scenes on each panel are a reflection of each community’s Gold Star Families and their fallen Heroes. At the center of this tribute is the most distinct feature of the monument, the cut out which represents the Loved One who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of Freedom.

It was important to Woody to include all the families.  He noted that Gold Star Moms had always received recognition for their losses, and recalled some Moms he knew who had lost their sons, but he once ran into a man who changed Woody’s thinking, telling him: “Dads cry too.”

Woody belongs to Post 177 in Barboursville, W.Va. where he's been a Legionnaire for 68 years.

So began Woody’s effort which came to partial fruition on the cold October morning with roughly 25 gold star family members present.

Among the Gold Star Families present was Paul Zanowick whose son Rocky was killed in Afghanistan.

Another of the Gold Star Families present was Dennis Dickey, brother of Douglas E. Dickey who was killed in Vietnam and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during Operation Beacon Hill 1, on March 26, 1967, while serving as a rifleman with Company C, 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 9th Marine Amphibious Brigade of the 3rd Marine Division.  Ansonia, Ohio's American Legion Post 353 is named after Douglas, and Dennis himself active in The American Legion is a former 3rd district commander. 

"I'm in awe, this is quite a monument, and it's just something I never thought I'd see in my life, a tribute to all who lost loved ones" said Dennis as he stood next to the widow of fellow Medal of Honor recipient Joseph LaPointe Jr.  "The American Legion post I belong to was renamed in my brothers honor and I'm a life member of that post having been there 44 years and I'll be there the rest of my life."

To Woody, the monument is a testament to what American's can do if they come together.

"We must not let this country forget, we are here because others made it possible.  This community, this terrific history behind it.  Naturally this wouldn't be possible unless we worked together.  There is very little we can do alone, but together, it's been true of America ever since we came into existence, that when we work together for a cause, there is absolutely no limit to what we can achieve."

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.