WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - It’s just four pieces of granite. On their own, they don’t mean much, but the thought behind why they’ve been erected in the first place is to honor the friends and families of those left behind.
Wilmington is home to the state’s first Gold Star Family Memorial Monument honoring families who had loved ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice serving their country.
“I’m just so honored to be here” says Vivian Scharver. Her son lost his life in Grenada in 1983. “My heart is with all of these people who’ve lost families. To have a family monument, I think, is very important. I hope people come and reflect on it.”
The monument is the brainchild of Hershel “Woody” Williams. He’s a Medal of Honor recipient for his service in World War II and is the only living Marine with that medal for his service during that war.
“This is about honoring families,” Williams said standing at the podium on an overcast Monday. “We remember your sacrifice, too.”
The purpose of the monument is to honor Gold Star families, preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that freedom is not free.
The monument’s four panels represent homeland, family, patriotism and sacrifice.
“Oh, it’s beautiful. I can’t wait for everyone to see it,” says Norma Luther, a Gold Star mother who lost her son, Captain Glen P. Adams, Jr., in 1988. He was a helicopter pilot and died in a training exercise in Germany. She helped raise the $60,000 needed to erect the monument in Hugh MacRae Park.
“Some people who don’t think it’s important will eventually see it as important,” says Luther. “It will be important to just about everyone at some time or another because everybody is touched by war.”
Monday’s ceremony was originally scheduled for September, but had to be pushed back because of Hurricane Florence. More than 100 people came out to show their respect and pay tribute to those dealing with the pain of a life lost.
This is the first monument of its kind in North Carolina. There are more than 40 around the country with another 50 in the planning stages. Ceremonies are planned through Spring 2020.
“I hope people take the time to come up and reflect,” says Scharver. “I think every time I hear my son’s name, Jeffery Scharver, it touches my heart. It’s important to me that he’s never forgotten.”
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Hugh MacRae Park is there to help ensure no one is forgotten ever again.