Honoring veterans and their families is a growing movement across Thurston County. Many of our community members have served and recognizing their work is very important to leaders in the City of Lacey. This is why on June 14, 2020, the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will take on its permanent location at 521 Sleater Kinney Road SE.
“I found out about the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument through the American Legion,” explains local veteran and Lacey City Council Member, Michael Steadman. “They posted an event with Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams. It’s his life’s mission to have 50 of these monuments built to honor his friends who never made it home. I’ve always been passionate about recognizing our military service members no matter the job and I wanted to bring Williams’s dream to our city.”
The Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation started the Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments throughout the United States to honor those that have served. Its purpose is to not only honor those fallen soldiers, but to remind residents that freedom in our country isn’t free. Each side of the monument tells a story to visitors about those men and women that have served with the themes of homeland, family, patriotism, and sacrifice. Families will have the opportunity to praise and remember their loved ones in the military at this granite monument in Lacey.
“I was asked to get involved in this endeavor recently and I gladly did so,” explains Jerry Wilkins. “Having spent 32 years in the service myself, I am honored to support the effort as a way for a veteran to serve veterans.”
Bringing a monument to Lacey has been no easy feat. Local leaders have been working hard to make this dream a reality because they know the positive impact it will have on our community. “It will bring so much love and respect to family members that never really received closure,” says Steadman. “We live in a military community and honoring them can bring awareness to the tough part of being a nation of free citizens.”
Steadman comes from a background of military service and focuses on ways to pay it forward to his fellow service members whenever possible. “I sacrificed very little compared to some,” he explains. “I served as well as my father who was in the Army, my two brothers and two nephews also served in the United States Marine Corps, just like I did. We were all fortunate enough to come home to our loved ones. Some aren’t so lucky and for them we are all eternally grateful.”
Honoring these service members doesn’t stop at the monument. “We already have a Civic Park in Lacey,” explains Steadman. “Once this memorial is complete, we want to combine our efforts to create an honor wall and then eventually a Medal of Honor Memorial Monument. Honoring the military, educating the citizens, and being a constant reminder that freedom, liberty, and democracy comes at a cost.”
“The local area that is so populated with veterans and active duty members and there is a need of a memorial honoring Gold Star families and their fallen loved ones,” says Wilkins. “I look forward to the partnership of the Gold Star families and supportive local veterans’ organizations taking this first step toward building this Gold Star Family Memorial Monument. The monument is an example of the community coming together in support of Gold Star families and veterans.”
The public is encouraged to attend the dedication ceremony on June 14, 2020 and honor the service men and women of our community.