The Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and Plaza in Pocatello is unveiled at a ceremony Thursday, May 28, 2021. As part of the ceremony, Gold Star Families in attendance lay a flower at the base of the statue. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com
POCATELLO — Hundreds of people were in attendance for the unveiling of the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and Plaza Thursday afternoon in Pocatello.
Etchings on the front of the memorial read “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument — A tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and those they left behind.”
The term Gold Star Family refers to the family members of servicemen who died in service to the country.
Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com
Many of those in attendance were members of local Gold Star Families, given the opportunity to lay a flower at the base of the monument upon its unveiling. There were also dozens of members of the POW/MIA Riders Association, and similar organizations.
Among the dignitaries tasked with commemorating the memorial were Brigadier General Farin Schwartz, of the Idaho National Guard, and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo spokeswoman Farhana Hibbert. The guest of honor though, was the lone surviving recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor following World War II, Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams.
“For years, as wars came and went, we didn’t do anything to really recognize (Gold Star Families) for their sacrifice,” Williams said in his address. “This community, I believe, right now has a new beginning. … history is coming to this community today.”
Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and retired United States Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 4 Hershel “Woody” Williams speaks at the unveiling of the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and Plaza in Pocatello on May 28, 2021.
“I can’t say how impressed I am with how this memorial turned out,” Schwartz said in his address. “Such a fitting tribute to the service members and their families.”
Schwartz, saying that the timing was fitting, given the country’s celebration of Memorial Day this weekend. In addition to celebrating those who lost their lives defending the nation, the general asked that all keep the families of those passed soldiers in their hearts as well.
The cost of the completed monument and plaza was approximately $250,000, paid for by sponsorship and independent donors.
The memorial itself, a beautiful 12-foot-long dark structure with a cutout of a saluting soldier, is flanked by nine flag poles, bearing flags from each of the armed services along with the Idaho State Flag and the American Flag. There are also six benches, surrounding the cemented area.
Hibbert, reading an address from Crapo, called the memorial’s completion “no small undertaking.”
“I congratulate all those who worked on the completion of the Idaho Gold Star Memorial Monument, to honor Idaho’s fallen service members and commemorate the enormous cost of our freedom shouldered by their families,” she said.
“We know this memorial will not ease the pain, or the heartache, or the grief,” Williams said. “But perhaps it will give some peace and solace to those loved ones who sacrificed one of their most precious gifts — one of their own.”
Rebecca Webb, Chair of the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee and Gold Star Mother, receives a medal naming her an official honorary board member of the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. “It’s a shame that every community can’t have a Rebecca,” Williams said, “how fortunate our country would be.” | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com
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