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Gold Star Families Memorial recap features comments with links to videos and more than 200 photos


Above / Gold Star families will be forever honored at a new memorial unveiled Sat., May 27, in Veterans Park, one of 127 monuments inspired by former Medal of Honor recipient, Woody Williams, via the Woody Williams Foundation. During dedication ceremonies, Gold Star families placed yellow roses in memory of their loved ones. (PN Photo)

Update / Day is done, gone the sun, From the lake, from the hills, from the sky; All is well, safely rest, God is nigh. And the Naperville Gold Star Family Memorial Monument in Veterans Park is softly illuminated for peace… 8:30PM, Memorial Day, Mon., May 29. (PN Photo)
Update / On Memorial Day, May 29, 2023, the recently-dedicated Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was visited by Gold Star families in attendance at the wreath-laying observance in Veterans Park, 301 Gartner Road. The annual visit coordinated by the American Legion Post 43 and the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 began with a wreath-laying at the Dan Shanower-Sept. 11 Memorial along the Riverwalk. (PN Photo) 
Update / At 8:35AM, a large gathering paused at Veterans Park to pay tribute with respect to all Gold Star Families on Memorial Day, an annual visit coordinated by the American Legion Post 43 and the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873. The early-morning visits to place wreaths in local parks and cemeteries are followed by the Memorial Day Parade throughout downtown Naperville. (PN Photo)

Response to Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Dedication

To me the high point of the dedication was the out pouring of thanks from the Gold Star Family members for remembering their family member who gave their lives for our freedom. Watching them as they read their lost ones name, chocking up with grief, emotion and love made this old crusty Marine cry.

Everyone involved in the years of preparation and presentation of yesterday’s dedication… I can’t thank you enough for your time and dedication to this project. 

Lew Breese, Naperville Resident, Inspired by Woody Williams to create a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument

Marines currently serving and retired were set to unveil the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Veterans Park. Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee Co-Chairs Jennifer Slown and Lew Breese are to be credited for their enduring leadership and dedication to this project. (PN Photo)
A congratulations to ALL! … The number of Gold Star Families and community members that came up to let me know how touched they were and how incredible of a program it was was simply overwhelming. This was such an amazing day… Truly. 
Again, thank you for your MANY years of hard work and dedication to making this monument a reality. It was just an amazing day…!
Jennifer Slown, Co-Chairman, Naperville Gold Star Families Monument Committee

Editor’s Note / Back in late 2020, PN first began helping longtime acquaintance Lew Breese create interest and awareness about his vision to work with the Woody Williams Foundation to build a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Naperville. That first story among others captured the interest of the community and Century Walk Corporation. With the blessing of Mike King, Treasurer of Woody Williams Foundation, May 27, 2023, became the day when the 127th GSFM monument in the U.S. was dedicated in Veterans Park, 301 Gartner Road, Naperville, IL.

Thirteen banners helped tell the story of the 114 men and women from Naperville that paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving to protect and defend freedom. Always remember. (PN Photo)
Congratulations to you and the entire committee for making this Memorial a reality. The dedication today was one of the most moving and beautiful events I have ever attended.
Thank you!
—Dan Jurjovec, Naperville Resident / President, Naperville Responds for Veterans
Veteran Jim Oftedal delivered the Blessing of the Monument with a moment of silence. (PN Photo)
Yesterday’s ceremony was immensely appreciated. I thought that I had my military emotions in check, but during and after the messages from Mike King and Denise Williams my normal “emotional guard” started to collapse. With the Gold Star families present…and the comments from the two speakers I just mentioned…coupled with my tragic memories of losing two high school and one college buddy, extremely emotional thoughts returned in full force. I thought about letting the GSFamilies know that I, too was a Vietnam Vet who lost buddies, but realized the day’s message was not enhanced by my loss, but was the day and event for Gold Star families seated to my right/right. Their loss is 100% loved ones.
My intent (formulated while listening to the speakers) was to finish my 2nd address…turn and salute the monument which was just unveiled…but again, it wasn’t a day about me.
It took until the next day after reflecting upon the Saturday’s events that an older remembrance came into play. It has to do with “Survivor’s Guilt.” Another H/G member, Keith Whitman, and I have had discussions about Survivor’s Guilt and while we didn’t resolve the issue, similar feelings returned after hearing that those lost in battle won’t return to do the myriad of things Ms. Williams said: group hugs, handshakes, young family members who never knew their aunt/uncle, and on-and-on.
I will share one more moment. It occurred while the Honor Guard was performing Military Funeral Honors (graveside) for the very first Vietnam veteran.  While addressing the N.O.K. and presenting her with the rifle shells, the grief that overtook my mindset threw me back to the time of my high school/college buddies who never returned. I had to stop my address for, don’t know how long, but certainly a minute or two in order to get over myself.  The memories I think I have under control just shows me that I’m not necessarily in charge.
The reason for sending my message is to thank all those involved; your countless hours; happiness/anguish and all the normal things that can happen when great events like the Gold Star Monument has gone from an idea to a Gold Star Dedication Ceremony.
This has been one tragedy avoided!  That would have been if you all had not invested your efforts into this Gold Star Project. I’m very grateful for having been given the opportunity to deliver the Invocation and Blessing.
—Jim Oftedal, Naperville Resident
Sounds of the Highland Guard Bagpipers and the Honor Guard are in the WGN feature on Channel 9 Chicago. (PN Photo)

WGN-9 Chicago featured the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument dedication on the 7PM news, Sat., May 27. Click here to watch the feature titled “Naperville unveils Gold Star monument on Memorial Day Weekend” by Jewell Hillery and Eli Ong.

One by one, Gold Star family members placed a yellow rose along the base of the monument. (Photo by Pam Bartlett)

Thank you, WGN, for attending the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Dedication. After all attendees had left Veterans Park, the WGN vehicle and crew remained so they could finish the story for the 7PM news on Saturday. Find the 3-minute story online at wgntv.com.

During the campaign to create the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Veterans Park, NCTV17 helped promote its significance —and its camera was there to record the dedication on May 27, 2023. (PN Photo)

Thank you, NCTV17, for posting a story online, too. Watch www.nctv17.org.

—Gold Star Families Memorial Committee, Naperville Residents

Marine Corps Veteran Lew Breese makes it official. The Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument has been dedicated. (Photo by Jim Hoch)
Absolute FANTASTIC dedication of the Gold Star Families Memorial yesterday, May 27, 2023. Touching and poignant and well worth the wait.
The photos I took (about 240 of 600 shots) can be viewed at jameshochphotography.smugmug.com.
Thanks to all who made this a reality!
—Jim Hoch, James Hoch Photography
Naperville Men’s Glee Club, Naperville Municipal Band and the Highland Guard Bagpipers provided peaceful music and “Amazing Grace” for the dedication ceremony. (PN Photo)

It was a great day! The Naperville Men’s Glee Club was very proud to be part of it.

                                                                 —Steve Rauter, B2 Section Leader, Naperville Men’s Glee Club

Originally Posted, May 27, 2023 / Last Updated, May 30, 2023.

Update, June 18, 2023 / Giving opportunities continue through July 5

Thanks to all friends of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is very special to Century Walk. The nonprofit public arts organization is grateful to have been collaborating with various entities for more than three years, following the tradition of telling stories about this community and building everlasting memorials that will outlive us all.

Century Walk Corporation and the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Committee are creating a permanent tribute to all donors to be placed in Veterans Park near the sidewalk entrance to the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

Gifts of all sizes continue to be welcome. Major gifts of $1,000 and more will be recognized on a commemorative stone if received by July 5, 2023, immediately following Independence Day weekend.

Kindly send gifts designated for GSFMM to Century Walk Corporation, 34 Chicago Avenue, Naperville, Il 60540. Include name, address, phone number and email. Kindly include “Gold Star Families Memorial” in the memo. Thank you.


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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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