Tuesday, August 01, 2017

TOP STORY >> Gold Star Families memorial for Beebe

By Jeffrey Smith
Leader staff writer

The Beebe City Council on Monday approved a spot for Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at the Veterans Park Memorial at Dewitt Henry Drive and ASU Boulevard.

Coordinator Bubba Beason told The Leader the monument will cost $44,000 and already has $17,000 in donations. Plans are to dedicate the monument by Veterans Day, Nov. 11. It will be the first one in the state.

Donations for the Beebe monument can be made through the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation website, www.HWWMOHF.org.

A Gold Star Family is a family who lost a loved one in defense of the nation.

Organizing the monument placement are Beebe residents Beason, a 25-year retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant and Army veteran Jeff Marshall, both are Arkansas Run for the Fallen board members and business partners in Old Arkansas Alarm in Beebe. Marshall’s wife, Chelsey is a Gold Star widow who lost her husband, Jeff Swindle, in 2012 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and former Beebe VFW Post 7769 commander Ken Adams.

“I’ve worked with Gold Star Families. There has never been a monument for the families left behind. They deal with it every day, it is for them,” Beason said.

The black granite monument has two sides. One reads Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Mothers, Fathers, and Relatives who have sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom. The other side has four panels telling the story of Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. The scenes on each panel reflect each community’s Gold Star Families and their fallen heroes.

At the center of the monument is a cutout representing the loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.

Beason said a Gold Star Families Monument is planned at the State Capitol but could take years of fundraising to install. Beason and Marshall are also project committee members for the State Capitol project.  

The goal of the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation is to place a Gold Star monument in every state and every city. So far there are 18 monuments dedicated and 45 projects in progress in 34 states.

Hershel Woody Williams, 93, is the sole surviving Marine from World War II to receive the Medal of Honor for valor during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was presented the Medal of Honor in 1945 at the White House by President Harry Truman.

In other news, the city will hold a free Family Fun Night with food and fireworks at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Beebe Ball Park.

Rain forced the cancellation of the annual Fourth of July celebration. Some of the fireworks will be saved for next year.

The city is providing food, drinks and ice cream. Music is by Brock Entertainment.

There will be face painting and a bouncy slide.

At 8 p.m., the Disney movie “Moana” will be shown at on a big outdoor screen with fireworks afterward.