MANSFIELD -- Families of local military men and women who have lost their lives in combat may soon have a new way to honor those loved ones.
The newly-formed Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee of Mansfield, Ohio is working to construct just that - a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument honoring the families of servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the military.
On Jan. 31, the committee will ask the Richland County Commissioners for permission to erect the monument in front of the county courthouse. Pending site approval, the committee will move forward with a fundraising effort to construct the monument.
Leading the local effort is honorary board member Jared Smith, a Mansfield native and veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve.
"The monument is a place to allow healing, a stunning visual tribute to draw awareness, and a conversation starter to educate those that may not know what a Gold Star Family is," Smith said.
Smith is a 2001 graduate from Crestview High School, an Eagle Scout from Troop 214, who also participated in the Criminal Justice program at Pioneer Career and Technology Center. He entered the service from Mansfield, and was inducted in 2010 to the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor.
"Mansfield to me represents the heart of Ohio, which is not just geographically evident, but evidence of this can be found all through the city and throughout Richland County with the values and the way we treat others with dignity and respect," Smith said.
"I am excited to form and be a part of this amazing team for this great journey to educate and bring awareness to our region of our beloved Gold Star Families, to give back and pay forward to amazing families whose loved one has sacrificed everything for our freedom."
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee of Mansfield, Ohio consists of 14 individuals, including two Gold Star parents, two Blue Star parents, and 10 veterans. The committee is working in conjunction with the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to bring a monument to Mansfield.
The Gold Star Family Memorial was created by United States Marine Corps Medal of Honor recipient CWO4 Hershel “Woody" Williams to remember those families who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
"His mission is to ensure they honor Gold Star families, relatives and children by building Gold Star monuments throughout the United States," Smith explained. "Anyone interested in doing one of these can reach out to the foundation."
The cost of building a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Mansfield ranges anywhere between $55,000 and $75,000. If the Richland County Commissioners approves the site for the monument, Smith and the rest of the committee will turn their attention to fundraising.
Anyone interested in donating to the Mansfield, Ohio Gold Star Families Memorial Monument can visit this link: http://hwwmohf.org/mansfield-oh.html where information can be found on the local monument, the committee, and the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. All monies donated on this page will go directly to the Mansfield, Ohio Monument and monies will be handled through the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.
Businesses or individuals that are interested in making a donation can donate directly through the link or contact Jared Smith at 740-398-4584 or email at WCVSO.Commissioner@gmail.com for additional information.
"I don't see a better way to be able to honor those men and women who have paid that ultimate sacrifice, as well as honor their families, than being part of building a site for a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument," Smith said. "It will allow the community to learn more about Gold Star families and bring awareness in our community.
"It will also be a place where Gold Star families can come and possibly heal."