ZIMMERMAN, Minn. (FOX 9) - Across the nation, fields of marble are set aside to honor the country’s war dead, but few places exist for the families those men and women came from.
Since WWI, gold stars have been presented to families who have made the ultimate sacrifice. And now there’s a movement in Zimmerman to further honor them.
"We’re trying to build the God Star Monument," said Dawn Olsen of the American Legion Riders Post 560. "This monument needs to be done just so the loved ones have a place to go and honor."
The Zimmerman American Legion Post 560 is working to build a granite Gold Star Families Monument nearly identical to the monument erected in Mantorville, Minnesota last spring. The monument features four slabs of dark granite. On the front-facing side of the monument is a gold star with engraving that reads, "A tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom."
On the back side of the monument are etchings, including the image of U.S. Marines raising the American Flag on Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima during WWII.
The monument is designed by the Woody Williams Foundation with intention of installing copies of the memorial in communities across the country. Williams was a WWII Marine who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor in combat at Iwo Jima. Before Williams died this summer at the age of 99, he was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from WWII. As a final gesture of respect, his flag-draped casket was allowed to rest in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
"He saw all the attention he got. And he just didn't think it was right that he got all this attention and that his fellow troops that died around him, their families got very little," said Bob Lundgren of American Legion Post 460 and himself a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran. "That was his mission. And he did a good start on it. And he wants to continue it going."
The goal of Legion Post 560 is to build the Gold Star Families Monument at Legion Park at 257th Avenue and Hwy 169. The park is the site of the old Legion Post which now serves as a memorial to veterans and the sailors who died in the attack on the USS Liberty in 1967.
The Post is looking to raise $100,000 to build the monument and it’s ready to accept both money and labor donations.
"If we could knock down the labor costs and possibly some donations of materials, we can really help this along and make it even better than what we’re planning on doing," said Lundgren.
Lundgren is asking anyone who can donate labor and materials to contact the post at 763-856-2131.
There is also a link for monetary donations on its Facebook page here.