DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Hershel "Woody" Williams wants to bring a Gold Star Family Monument to the Quad Cities.
In the last six years he’s helped to erect 48 memorial monuments across the nation, another 61 are currently in progress.
The purpose of these monuments is to honor families who have lost a loved one who was serving this country.
Born in 1923, Woody Williams is the sole surviving Marine “Medal of Honor” recipient from WWII. And he continues to tour the country to spread a message that the father of an Afghan war veteran once told him “dad’s cry too.”
It all started with one monument in West Virginia six years ago.
“From there it continued to go city to city, community to community and for the first time in the history of America, Gold Star families are starting to come together and even though they live in the same community they don’t know each other. And they're coming together for the first time, each one of them made the sacrifice of a loved one and they now have someplace where they can go and sit and meditate. And I don't know how many times I’ve heard, now my loved one will not be forgotten,” says Wiliams.
And now Williams and the Association of the United States Army's Rock Island Chapter want to bring a monument the Quad Cities. Williams says he believes the ideal location would be on the arsenal between the blue star and gold star monuments (official location hasn't been decided upon as this was the initial announcement for the push to build local monument).
“There's a number of families in the area and we haven't paid any tribute or honor to those folks. And it (the monument) won’t just be for today, it would be for the past, present and the future. I'd like to say we won’t have anymore, but we know there will be,” says Wilson.
Every piece of the memorial's design was intentional
“One side, of course, tells what it's all about, but then when we turn it around, and on the other side it's all lasered in and community and committee they make the decision of what they want on their memorial. They decide what goes on that because it's a community or state memorial, not a national monument,” says Wilson.
Especially, the spaces in between which create an outline of a soldier.
“That part, that's what made me tear up because I could see my son standing right there,” says Marilyn Korthaus-Riley a Quad City area resident and gold star family member.
“I could see his smile, his blue eyes, and sense of pride,” she says filled with emotion as she thinks of her son Marine Sgt. Bradley Steven Korthaus.
Wilson says the monuments also serve as a reminder for all Americans.
“our next generation will have perhaps for the first time, I have all these privileges because these individuals made it possible, as I have all my privileges because somebody else sacrificed their life for me to have all these privileges,” says Wilson.
The monuments honor the relatives of all those who lost a loved one who served
“It doesn't have to be in combat,” says Wilson.
“The families are still gold star family members, they lost a loved one, the most precious thing they had, the life of that individual,” he added.
Woody Williams says there is no gift more precious than life itself.
And there's no greater sacrifice than one who gives their life for somebody else.
If you want to support this initiative or are a member of a Gold Star family in the Quad City area you can reach out to Dr. Julie Johnson, of the United States Army's Rock Island chapter via email at Contact.RIA@AUSA.ORG.