Adding Gold Star memorial adds to shine

IT WAS A MOVING and emotional ceremony Saturday at the Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial.

A Gold Star Memorial was added to the impressive facility, which was designated as the nation’s first Gold Star Memorial by the National Ivy League Garden Clubs Inc.

The memorial, located adjacent to Taylor Park on the west side of the city of Sheboygan, was designated a Blue Star Memorial two years ago by the same group. The latest designation adds to the luster and glory of the memorial.

For those who may not know, the Blue Star designates families who have a member serving in the Armed Forces, while the Gold Star is reserved for those families with a loved one who “paid the ultimate price defending the United States of America.”

Of course, no star nor any plaque can fill the hole left in the hearts of family members and loved ones who have grieved the loss of someone close who died defending freedom.

But to know they are not forgotten, that their sacrifice is remembered and memorialized, serves to offset that pain at least somewhat.

The Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial was built in 1994, with seven slabs of granite inscribed with the names of county residents who died on action on one side and the names of those who served on the other.

Those memorials have long since been filled with names requested by grateful loved ones and family members of those who served. The committee which oversees the memorial has had to add two additional walls filled with more names of those who have served.

Saturday’s ceremony included the recognition of more than 50 additional veterans whose names are the latest to be added to the memorial.

As touching as that was, the most emotional part of the ceremony was the dedication of the

Gold Star Memorial for those veterans who will never return home.

More than 300 people enjoyed a bright, sunny fall afternoon as speakers paid tribute to the ultimate sacrifice paid by so many sons and daughters of Sheboygan County.

Linda McCafferty of the Blue Star/Gold Star Families Memorials and the American Legion Auxiliary read a statement from Denise Rohan, a Wisconsin American Legion Auxiliary member and a candidate for national commander of the auxiliary, that summed up well the meaning of the memorial and the ceremony:

“I cannot imagine the pain our Gold Star families have endured on behalf of our nation, but gardens like this will forever help us remember to tell our children and our children’s children about the men and women who died throughout our history to help preserve our way of life. It will also help us remember the sacrifices of the families of our fallen heroes.”

The Sheboygan County Veterans Memorial is a fitting and reverential tribute to those who have served and sacrificed, and the latest designation makes it even more so. It is well worth a quiet, reflective visit to pay tribute and homage to all of those listed on the memorial.

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