Gold Star Family Memorial Monument completed in Gainesville
Hershel Woody Williams is the last surviving Marine from World War II to wear the Medal of Honor. It's his legacy to honor Gold Star Families with a special tribute. The Gold Star Family Memorial in Gainesville is his 60th completed monument to honor those families who sacrificed a family member that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
"A lot of folks poured their heart and soul into this," said Gary Cox, committee member for the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.
"Gainesville is the only Medal of Honor host city in the nation," said Cox.
Known as the most patriotic small town in America, it was only appropriate to establish a Medal of Honor recipient's monument to families in Gainesville.
"It used to be Gold Star Mothers and Woody said one day that a gentleman walked up to him and said 'dads cry too,' and he said that hit him like a ton of bricks," said Cox.
Hershel "Woody" Williams is committed to honoring any family who has lost a family member in combat. Saturday, dozens gathered to remember their loved ones. Each family laid a yellow carnation to signify a loved one lost.
"Those people that we lost, if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be doing this," said Gold Star Family member, Rickey Nichols.
Nichols never got to meet 2 of his cousins who lost their lives in battle.
"My family has got a lot of military. My dad, my father-in-law, my brothers-in-law, nephews, my sons, all of them. This is a place where I, the 2 I never got to meet, can come back and think about them," he said.
Nichols says it's unique because it honors the whole family.
"Most of the ones you see around are more for an individual or a group, not necessarily like the family unit is so it just means more," said Nichols.
This monument is located in 45 states. Williams's goal is to have these tributes to families in as many communities as possible in all 50 states.