MANSFIELD -- A Gold Star Families Memorials Monument is being planned for construction at the Richland County Administration Building, 50 Park Avenue East, Mansfield, Ohio 44902, alongside other veterans memorials.
On Jan. 31, the Richland County Commissioners voted 3-0 to grant this project land in front of the Administration Building.
Medal of Honor recipient CWO4 (USMC, retired) Hershel “Woody” Williams is the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from Iwo Jima of World War II and one of our four World War II Medal of Honor recipients and National Treasurers.
Williams came up with the monument concept and his namesake foundation encourages and assists with the establishment of the monuments, which are intended to honor the sacrifices, and help heal the families and friends of military members who died in service.
“We’ve done a terrific job, I think, of honoring Veterans,” Williams said. “But it’s strange that we never did anything for the families.”
Williams said the monuments provide the families of fallen Soldiers “some place to go and meditate and know that their loved one is not going to be forgotten.”
Jared Smith is the Committee Chair of the Mansfield GSFMM Project and a veterans advocate.
“This is a great opportunity to give back to the Heroes and Gold Star families and friends, an opportunity to encourage healing, and stark reminder that freedom is not free," Smith said. "Our American flag waves with the last breath of each of our Gold Star Heroes; I am grateful to be a part of this amazing project; because the cause is greater than I…”
Smith’s last statement are the spoken words he echoes which was first stated by Hershel “Woody” Williams and is the Mansfield committee’s motto.
The estimated cost of the monument is in the neighborhood of $70,000, Smith said.
"But if we get in-kind donations, we can lower that amount all the way down to $55,000 or so.”
Leading the fundraising for this effort will be Jared Smith, Ken Estep, Larry Moore and Bill Homer.
Currently, the Mansfield Ohio Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee is made up of 2 *Gold Star parents, 2 **Blue Star parents, and 10*** Veterans which include: *Denis Nowacki; *Sheila Nowacki; **Lynn Feldman; **Frank Reed; ***Ken Estep; ***Larry Corn; ***Larry Moore; ***Chief Mike Bailey; ***Bill Homer; ***Doug Mosier; ***Bill Flanegan; ***Josh Hurrell; ***Bernie Lyons; and ***Jared Smith.
“Every community, really of any size, has Gold Star Families in them, going back to when we first became a nation,” Williams said.
From the 501(c)(3) Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor 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 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.