BY RYAN SPELTS
American Gold Star Family is the phrase used when referencing the family of U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed in combat or in support of certain military activities: an honor that no one wants. North Ogden, like most communities in America, is home to many Gold Star Families. When Jennie Taylor, wife of the late Brent Taylor who was killed in combat, found out about the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation’s (HWWMHF) efforts to place monuments in communities across the United States, she reached out to see if it was possible to bring one to North Ogden.
North Ogden has been extremely supportive in helping this monument come to pass. The City Council committed to not utilize tax dollars for this project, and their only donation has been the monument location. The monument is currently under construction near City Hall, between the police station and the library. The monument will not list the names of service men and women who have fallen during their service, but is a symbolic honoring of their sacrifices and that of their families. The monument has been funded entirely by private donations but, unlike many monuments which list the donations and donors on a plaque, this monument will remain anonymous. That way, the Gold Star Families remain the centerpiece of honor.
The HWWMHF was started by Hershel “Woody” Wiliams, a soldier who survived the battle of Iwo Jima and witnessed many lives that were lost. He wanted to create a monument to honor the families of his fellow soldiers who were lost in combat. He also had the unique experience of delivering Western Union Telegraphs to families who had lost someone before he served in the military himself. These experiences gave Woody a “greater appreciation for life and an understanding of a difference in death in the normal world as expected in life, and those lost serving in the military for their country.”
To date, Woody and his foundation are responsible for establishing 60 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the United States and more than 72 underway. One of those underway is being constructed in North Ogden.
North Ogden City and Mayor Neal Berube have been very helpful, ensuring that the project was possible. The site for the monument is under construction, and the local non-profit Follow the Flag – North Ogden has been instrumental in getting the funding for everything through private donations. The dedication of the monument will be held August 1, 2020 (though it has been postponed twice due to COVID-19 concerns). Woody will most likely attend. Keep an eye on the Facebook page to make sure when events are happening. The committee would also like to know who the Gold Star Families are, since there is no way to receive a list. If you know of someone, please reach out and let the committee know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate, you can visit goldstarutah.org