PORT ANGELES — On Sept. 7 at the edge of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., more than 30 Tribute Towers were first unveiled.
The national “Remembering Our Fallen” traveling memorial on display at the Ronald Reagan Museum has traveled to the Captain Joseph House in Port Angeles.
The house, which is still undergoing renovations, was founded by Gold Star Mother Betsy Schultz as the country’s only Family to Family program extending the continuum of care to Gold Star Veteran Families.
Visitors to Captain Joseph House from Friday through Monday will have a chance to view the photographic war memorial exhibit of more than 5,000 U.S. service members who have died in combat since 9/11 in the Global War on Terrorism.
The towers will be set up in front of Captain Joseph House, on South Oak Street between West 11th Street and the alley.
Opening ceremonies are set for 1 p.m. Friday. There is no cost to the public to attend.
This one-of-a-kind outdoor exhibit will remain open for viewing 24 hours over all four days.
The double-sided, 10-foot-by-5-foot weather-resistant banners feature military and civilian photos of each of the fallen heroes, with information about who they were and when they died.
“It will be an emotional project as we assemble the towers,” Schultz said. “There’s a family attached to each and every one of the photographs. These Gold Star Families will visit for a week-long respite at the House once the remodel is complete, giving each person and child the chance to connect on a more personal level in a home-away-from-home setting. To honor our Fallen is to live each day to the fullest.”
The “Tribute Towers” began as the brainchild of Bill and Evonne Williams of Nebraska. The couple saw a story in a newspaper in 2010 about a Gold Star Father whose son, Sgt. Joshua Ford, had died in action in 2006 while serving in Iraq.
The father’s pain and grief was even greater four years later because he felt that his son had been forgotten, and the war was not even over yet.
The Williams’ first memorial was for the “fallen” that called Nebraska their home. After realizing the impact this first photo display had upon the general public, the Williamses agreed the project should be completed in other states to remind people of the cost of freedom while helping to lessen the grief of the families.
After completing 19 state memorials, the focus shifted to one national memorial.
The Williams contacted Betsy Schultz on Aug. 30 after reading about Captain Joseph House Foundation and its mission. The opportunity to display the Tribute Towers at Captain Joseph House that would welcome Gold Star Veteran Families when completed forged a connection between the Williams and Schultz.
The exhibit dates include a Friday and Monday so that area schools can schedule field trips and a weekend to encourage families from outside the immediate area to visit.
Following the Port Angeles exhibit, the memorial will be taken to California for a Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 display at the Paseo Colorado Mall in Pasadena.
About the foundation
The Captain Joseph House Foundation was founded by Schultz as the country’s first Gold Star Veteran Family-to-Family program that will give families of those killed in combat since 9/11 the chance to connect on a personal level in a home-away-from-home setting.
Captain Joseph House will provide a week-long, all-expense-paid respite (including airfare) for three Gold Star Veteran Families at a time, for a total of 16 family members. This respite will be available every week, 11 months of the year.