Texas town dedicates memorial monument to Gold Star families


Keller has dedicated a park and monument to Gold Star Families, families who have lost a relative in military service. Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is outside Keller Town Hall.

"It's here for the families of those members so they can come, remember them and honor them," says Keller Mayor Pat McGrail.

The monument includes four pillars: Homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice.

"Those are all things that bring a community together," says Sergeant Major Matthew Williams, a Medal of Honor recipient. "Gold Star families paid the ultimate sacrifice."

The monument also includes a "battlefield cross."

Erin Stillinger, now a sophomore in high school, started raising money for the project two years ago, when she was in eighth grade. The project has raised $110,000 and $70,000 in time and supplies. She worked with the Woody Williams Foundation, which has established Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in 49 states.

Williams, now 97, received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Iwo Jima.

"This historic event can be seen pictured on the monument," Stillinger says. "Mr. Williams is a huge inspiration to me and many others as he continues to tell the stories of Gold Star families every day."

Regina Sather, whose husband died after an improvised explosive device exploded near his Humvee in Iraq in 2004, came to the dedication with their son. She says the monument can give families a place to reflect.

"The families come together for this bond. There's a shared commonality in the grief. We can focus on just the grief, we don't have to tell our story. It's the connection and being able to cry with someone who actually understands what you've been through," Sather says. "It is like family because, often, we're back in our homes, our schools and our neighborhoods, and we're the only ones like us. This is really powerful."

McGrail says the monument can also help others learn about the lives of people who died in military service.

"We can't bring them back, but at least we can honor them," he says. "They really don't get the honor or recognition they deserve. Just as importantly, the families, because their lives go on, but they always live with the memory. Unfortunately, a lot of people take this for granted. It's such an important part of life. I, myself, was proud to have been a member of the military. Nowadays, a lot of people don't even give it a second thought. That's kind of sad. We're very excited to have it here, and hopefully, people will appreciate and come and enjoy it."