On Saturday, May 27, 2023, Naperville Gold Star Families gathered at Veterans Park to commemorate the unveiling of a monument dedicated to the memories of their fallen family.
Gold Star Families Memorial Monument event
The ceremony began with the Presentation of Colours, the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the national anthem. The Lima Lima flight team performed a flyover in tribute to the families.
The event featured musical performances by the Naperville Municipal Band and the Men’s Glee Club. Among the distinguished guests in attendance were Mayor Scott Wehrli, U.S. Representative Bill Foster, Naperville Councilwoman Allison Longenbaugh, Councilman Nate Wilson, and Illinois State Representative Stefanie Kifowit, a Marine veteran herself.
Mike King, from the Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, addressed the gathering, emphasizing the significance of the day as a tribute to the Gold Star Families and Relatives who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. He shared the inspiring story of Woody Williams, a World War II veteran whose dedication to honoring veterans and their families never ceased.
Remembering the ultimate sacrifice for freedom
Keynote speaker Denise Williams, the president of American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., offered a heartfelt account of what it feels like to lose a family member in the line of duty.
“Our children were literally part of our bodies, and they’re no longer here,” said Williams. “Life does go on, but it’s different. You still go to the grocery store, there’s an empty chair every night. Family gatherings, celebrations, your Christmas shopping list is a little shorter, and birthdays are commemorated over a headstone. These and a thousand other moments wear you down.”
Williams closed her speech with these thoughts, “The biggest fear of a Gold Star Family is that their loved one will be forgotten. With this monument, you ensure us their loss will always be remembered and will be honored and that you are a part of us. You are a part of our Gold Star Family. Thank you.”
The ceremony ended with members from each Gold Star Family laying a yellow rose at the base of the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument and offering their loved one’s name, rank, and years served.
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