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CHARLESTON — COVID-19 has limited travel in West Virginia, closed the state Capitol to the public and limited the exposure of the new Gold Star Families Memorial, which was unveiled on October on the Capitol complex grounds.

“On a warm winter day, a walk around the Capitol is a great way to get fresh air and some exercise,” Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association, said. “The new Gold Star Families Memorial and the other memorials make the walk even more special.”

According to information from the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, which encourages the establishment of permanent Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in communities throughout the United States, such monuments provide a place of permanence for Gold Star families to gather and use as they see fit.

“These monuments belong to them and their fallen loved ones,” the foundation says.

They are intended to achieve the following goals:

  • Demonstrate to Gold Star families that their community cares for them and appreciates their sacrifice while also honoring the ultimate sacrifice paid by their loved ones.
  • Establish local Gold Star Family communities and strengthen the community within itself through Gold Star Family outreach events associated with each monument location.
  • Educate the general public about Gold Star families’ enduring sacrifices and the ultimate sacrifice made by their loved ones.

On the other side of the monument, there are scenes etched on each of the four panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot and Sacrifice. At the center of the tribute is a silhouette of a saluting service member, which represents the legacy of the loved ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Together, these features tell each community’s story based upon the pillars of the foundation.

Each Gold Star Families Memorial Monument features an explanation marker, which serves to educate visitors about the monument’s design features and meaning.