The U.S. Coast Guard Quillayute posts the colors while VFW Post 9106 Cmdr. Tom Hughes of Forks salutes during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gold Star Families Monument at the Forks Transit Center. (Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News)

The U.S. Coast Guard Quillayute posts the colors while VFW Post 9106 Cmdr. Tom Hughes of Forks salutes during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Gold Star Families Monument at the Forks Transit Center. (Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News)

Ground broken for Forks Gold Star Families Memorial Monument

Organizers hope to dedicate finished tribute Sept. 29

FORKS — The Coast Guard posted the colors, the Northwest Navy Band played the national anthem and the Quileute Drum Group blessed the ground before the first shovelfuls of dirt were turned for the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

The Saturday ceremony was at the Forks Transit Center.

Mayor Tim Fletcher; Janet Hughes, president of the VFW Auxiliary Post 9106; and Tom Hughes, commander of VFW Post 9160 spoke at the ceremony.

Organizers hope to dedicate the finished monument Sept. 29, on Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families Day.

The project started in October 2018, when the VFW sought permission to place the monument at the transit center at 551 S. Forks Ave.

Members of the committee working on this project are Janet and Tom Hughes, Mike McCracken, Bill Plumley, Mike Rowley and Christi Baron, who also is the editor of the Forks Forum.

They have worked to raise the $90,000 needed to purchase the monument created by the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.

The monument will honor Gold Star families, who are the immediate family of a member of the Armed Forces who was killed or died while serving.

One side of the black granite monument will feature 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 will feature a four-part story about “Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice” told in panels to serve as a reflection of the Gold Star Families and their fallen heroes.

At the center of these four images, will be a cut-out that represents the loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

The idea for the monument came from the U.S. Marine Corps veteran and WWII Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, the last surviving Marine from WWII who wears the Medal of Honor, Hughes said.

The Gold Star originated in WWI from Army Capt. Robert Queissner, who had two sons serving at the front lines. He created and patented the blue star banner which would go on to become the unofficial symbol of families with a child/family member in the service, according to Hughes. The star would change from blue to gold upon the death of the service member in the line of duty.

For more information or to schedule a speaker on the monument, contact the VFW at 360-374-5489 or J. Hughes at 360-640-1401 evenings.

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