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Update! / Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee plans dedication on May 27

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Above / Veterans Park is located at 301 E. Gartner Road. 

Update, March 1, 2023 / Plans again changed. The dedication of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Veterans Park is planned for 2PM Sat., May 27, 2023. Everyone is welcome! BYOCS: Bring your own collapsible seating.

Update, May 18, 2022 / Plans are moving right along for the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Veterans Park. The dedication of the monument is planned for Sun., Aug. 7. The exact time and program will be announced soon. Thanks to everyone who has been inquiring.

Update, Sept. 27, 2021 / In the event you missed it, the ceremonial groundbreaking was a solemn and momentous occasion in Veterans Park on Gold Star Mother’s Day. Many in attendance were unaware that on June 23, 1936, a joint congressional resolution designated the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mother’s Day, proclaimed annually by each President. 

Surrounded by American flags waving in the breeze, the Naperville Municipal Band and the Naperville Men’s Glee Club collaborated on songs fitting and proper for such a monumental occasion on a Sunday afternoon in Veterans Park.

Naperville Municipal Band Associate Conductor Emily Binder led the band while the Naperville Men’s Glee Club also performed in Veterans Park.

Plainfield resident Denise Williams, president of the Illinois branch of the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., delivered the keynote address. Her son Army Pfc. Andrew Meari was killed in action in 2010 in Afghanistan. Her poignant presentation provided more understanding for the community of veterans, citizens and Gold Star families, all gathered together with the desire to perpetuate the memory of service men and women whose lives were sacrificed while serving this country to protect its freedoms.

Lew Breese, Marty Walker, Denise Williams, Jennifer Slown and Sangeeta Pande provided a meaningful history of the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument for Naperville.

Members of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee have been deeply touched by more than two years of dedication of Lew Breese to fulfill his dream to create a memorial to Gold Star Families.

“In a hundred years this foundation and eventual monument will still be standing, our great and great-great grandchildren will come and view the Gold Star and rival in the thought that their forefathers, and mothers were at the lead of making this happen in Naperville,” noted Breese after glorious sunshine illuminated the groundbreaking event. 
 
The committee is mindful that a garden and lighting will enhance the beauty of the memorial. They say their dedication to the project has just begin. Fundraising will be ongoing with respect for future care and maintenance. 
 
The granite stone has been cut and polished, packed in a container, and is on its way to America. The dedication likely will be in the spring of 2022, Breese said.
 
Representing the American Legion Riders, known for their charitable efforts, Steve Strickland presented a gift to Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Co-Chairman Marty Walker.
All citizens of the Naperville area are welcomed to be a part of the completion of this memorial project. Donations can be made at hwwmohf.kindful.com/?campaign=1064773.
 

Big gifts as well as small gifts have gone a long way to engage the community in this lasting memorial. Major donors always are necessary and appreciated for their generosity. And the idea to sell RED (Remember Everyone Deployed) shirts hosted by the American Legion Riders gave 500 supporters a chance to “remember” for $20. That meaningful community-wide fundraiser—held from May through September on the porch of the Judd Kendall VFW, at the Napervile Responds for Veterans SALUTE, Quigley’s Irish Pub, Naperville Irish Fest, Jaycees Last Fling, with home deliveries, too—provided $12,000 to the Gold Star Families Memorial.

One Napervillian included a special note with her $100 gift, saying she was making the donation to honor a Gold Star Mom who no longer lives in Illinois.

“Her son John served four years with the U.S. Army and reenlisted when he was unable to find a job that would provide support for his wife and unborn twins. He never got to hold his baby boys… His helicopter was shot down in Iraq,” she wrote. “Bless you all for your work in creating this tribute to the families that have lost so much.”

For more information about the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument effort, visit woodywilliams.org/monuments/naperville-il.html.

The groundbreaking event was served by the Combined Color Guard from the Naperville American Legion Post 43 and Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873. Thanks to all.

Original Post, Sept. 25, 2021 / The Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument project is about to become a reality.

On Sun., Sept. 26, a ceremonial groundbreaking will take place at Veterans Park, located at 301 E. Gartner Road. The public is invited.

As guests arrive, a prelude of patriotic music will be performed by the Naperville Municipal Band beginning at 1:45PM.

Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee Co-chair Jennifer Slown will present opening remarks at 2PM.

Gold Star families, Naperville city officials, Park District Board members and past and present military organization leaders will be in attendance.

The Naperville Men’s Glee Club will perform along with the VFW and American Legion combined Color and Honor Guards.

Members of the committee who brought this effort to life in Naperville will share their vision and gratitude.

The monument, sponsored by Naperville’s Century Walk Corporation and the Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, will be erected to honor the Naperville families of servicemen and -women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the military.

Naperville has lost 127 citizens in the service of our country over the years. Sunday’s ceremony sets in motion the final stages of a two-year-long effort to bring this commemoration, honoring the unintentional victims of war: the families of the fallen.

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will be placed in the future at Veterans Park.

Gold Star Families Memorial monuments are 7-foot-tall, 15-foot long, two-sided tributes fabricated from black granite.

One side bears a large gold star with the words “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument … A tribute to Gold Star Families and relatives who sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom.”

The other side will tell a local story through the four granite panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. At the center of this tribute is a silhouette of a military servicemember who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. Each monument includes a granite explanation marker, which serves to educate visitors about the monument design, meaning, and local committee.

Past Commander of the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 Lew Breese, the veteran who organized the committee to bring the Gold Star Families Memorial to Naperville, explained that when the black granite is set, the American flag and service flags in the distance at Veterans Park will be in clear view through the silhouette.

Generous support & collaboration make a difference

Support for this effort has been constant and impactful, such as generous donations from the Naperville Freemasons, Naperville Responds For Veterans, the American Legion Riders, City of Naperville SECA Fund; plus land and assistance were received from the Naperville Park District. Numerous donations from other organizations, businesses and many individuals also have served the project.

Furthermore, the Naperville Park District has made, and will continue to make, improvements to the property, including installing an ADA sidewalk from the parking lot to the monument, security cameras, updated hardware for the existing Veterans’ Memorial flag poles, and more.

For more information about the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument effort, visit woodywilliams.org/monuments/naperville-il.html.

Seating will be provided for Gold Star Families. Attendees might want to bring a collapsible chair. Parking will be available in the Grace Church lot across Gartner Road.

Story submitted by Lisa Murtaugh for the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee. PN Photos.

Updated captions by PN, Sept. 28, 2021. PN is proud to assist this effort.

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