Donations Still Sought for Wheeling’s Gold Star Families Memorial Monument

Gold Star Families Memorial Would Be Displayed in Ampitheater

WHEELING — While more than half the funds needed to erect a veterans memorial at Heritage Port have been raised, the chairman of the group spearheading the effort said he hopes to have the rest of the funds for it by the end of January.

John Nanny, chairman of the Hershel “Woody” Williams Scholarship Foundation, said he would like to have the funding in place for a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument so that it can become a reality by spring. The monument would be built at the Veterans Memorial Amphitheater.

Nanny said several organizations already have donated money for the effort. The group received $10,000 from the Ohio County Commission and $10,000 from the city of Wheeling. It also got $5,000 from Fourth Street United Methodist Church.

However, he said, the goal is $55,000.

“As of today, I’ve collected $35,410,” said Nanny, who was asked to be the lead for the local project by “Woody” Williams. “I’ve got 25 letters going out to local businesses and civic organizations this week and hopefully I’ll hear from some of them.”

Nanny said any donation — no matter the amount — will help the group reach its goal. He said the $55,000 should cover the cost of the monument as well as labor and surrounding landscaping. Nanny said several local law firms and a number of individuals also have contributed to the monument fund.

Jesse Mestrovic, director of parks and strategic planning for the city of Wheeling, said the monument will be constructed in a grassy area on the north upper end of the ampitheater. Mestrovic said the city agreed to prepare the site before the monument work begins.

The monument will be just over 7 feet high, 13 feet long and will consist of four black granite panels. One side will bear 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 tell the story about homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice. The center of the monument will feature the most distinct feature of the monument: a cut out that represents a loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The Gold Star monument in Wheeling will be the same as others that have been constructed around the country. Nanny said in keeping with the “veteran’s theme,” the Gold Star Monument and the and the current Veterans Memorial, which represents all the branches of the service and each war, will serve as “bookends” to the upper section of the ampitheater. He said once the funds are raised, the group will plan a ground-breaking ceremony and eventually a dedication ceremony.

The Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization that was established in 2010, is the entity undertaking the monument projects. As of last month, 42 Gold Star monuments have been completed and dedicated in various locations across the country, while 45 monuments are currently in progress with 39 states represented. The foundation’s mission is the vision of Williams, who is the sole surviving Medal of Honor recipient of the World War II battle of Iwo Jima and a native of West Virginia.

The mission of the group is to honor families by building Gold Star monuments in all 50 states by offering scholarships to Gold Star children, sponsoring outreach programs and events and educating communities about Gold Star families and the sacrifice they have endured.

For those interested in making donations, checks can be made out to HWWMOHF or (Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation) and mailed to John B. Nanny, Marine Corps League, P.O. Box 2121, Wheeling, WV 26003. Nanny said any support is greatly appreciated.

For details, contact Nanny at 304-281-2950 or nanny1007@comcast.net.

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