FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The Herschel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation will dedicate the new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Fairmont Saturday afternoon.
The dedication at the Hershel Woody Williams Armed Forces Reserve Center beginning at 2 p.m. includes appearances by WIlliams, Senator Joe Manchin, and Gold Star Families from West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Gold Star Families are those who lost loved ones who served in the military.
Williams lived in Fairmont for a portion of his life, working as a taxi driver and delivering death notices to families.
“That experience of delivering a death notice to the front door of what we now refer to as a Gold Star family and seeing the impact on that family–of knowing that their son was not coming home–had a profound effect on him,” Casey said.
Gold Star Mothers have been recognized for a while, but not the whole family.
“There are aunts and uncles and grandparents, the children, the wives of these soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors that do not come home that suffer for the rest of their lives,” he said. “The family dynamics of those families are changed forever.”
Williams, who earned a Medal of Honor in Iwo Jima, personally designed the monument over a period of more than half a year.
“It is jet-black granite from India,” he said. “And we’ve had it lasered (sic). Woody has personally designed this particular one. The other six that have been built in five other states have been designed by those communities.”
When Williams initially returned from the Pacific Front of WWII, he was greeted as a war hero by the city of Fairmont.
“The city of Fairmont has been so good to him, and he’s never forgotten that,” he said. “And this is his way of giving something back to the city of Fairmont and the Fairmont people who have sacrificed.”
The foundation funded the monument through outside donations. Additionally, United Parcel Service (UPS) made a donation to the foundation and agreed to ship the monument for free and held it at the White Hall facility.
The memorials have four panels with a different theme: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice.
Homeland represents Fairmont, which Williams also designed himself.
This is the third monument in the Mountain State. A map of all the projects is available at hwwmohfoundation.org/monument-projects.html