As a member of the Armed Services, you are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation. Each Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine goes through countless hours of training to prepare them for the possibility that they will meet the enemy on the battlefield. When that moment comes, each man and woman composes themselves with the greatest dignity and executes the mission to their utmost ability. Despite all of our technology, training and preparation the inevitable still occurs and brave men and women continue to fall in combat. At that moment, the sacrifice of the individual is fleeting but the impact is enduring – especially for the families of the fallen. The Department of Defense recognizes these families with Gold Star Lapel Button, or the “Gold Star pin”. This powerful symbol is not only a recognition of the family’s sacrifice but also a commitment to the long term support of the family.
Recognizing a conspicuous absence, Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams set out to honor Gold Star families with a Memorial to be erected in each state. He set about designing and raising funds for the erection of the first Gold Star Families Memorial in his home state of West Virginia and is currently working to establish the second Memorial in Pennsylvania. The Memorial is planned to be placed on the grounds of the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge near the Medal of Honor Grove. The fundraising and project planning is spearheaded by Gold Star Family member Cory Etchberger, son of Medal of Honor recipient Chief Master Sergeant Richard L. Etchberger. Along with the Friends of the Medal of Honor Grove well over half of the funds necessary to realize the Memorial has already been raised.
Cory reached out for assistance to complete the project and Muhlenberg Greene Architects is honored to announce that we, along with landscape architect Terry L. Souders, are volunteering our services and technical expertise to help site and landscape the Gold Star Families Memorial for Pennsylvania. We had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Etchberger and members of the Freedoms Foundation staff and are excited to help advance the project towards the Summer 2014 dedication. If you are interested in learning more, volunteering or in giving to help meet the final project goal, follow this link:
Also, we want to get the word out to family and friends, particularly to Gold Star Families – this Memorial honors their sacrifice and we want to make sure the word is spread far and wide. If you are on Facebook, please visit the Pennsylvania Gold Star Families Memorial page:
I am personally honored to be able to help with such a great cause. I am one of four siblings that served and I am thankful that we have all returned safely. No family seeks the Gold Star designation – it is an honor borne heavily – but it should serve as a constant reminder that freedom is not free and of our responsibility to those who endure the ultimate sacrifice.