News and stories

Gold Star Family Memorial Unveiled in Barboursville

Oct. 31, 2016 

Taylor Stuck | Herald-Dispatch 

BARBOURSVILLE - As a dozen white balloons were released into the air, one woman dressed in all white blew a kiss to the sky.

"See you later, Benjamin," she cried as she waved to the drifting balloon.

Belinda Jividen was one of 10 Gold Star mothers honored Sunday at the unveiling of West Virginia's third Gold Star Family Memorial at Barboursville Park.

A Gold Star Family member is a wife, husband, mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, parent through adoption, foster parents who stand or stood in place of parents, children, stepchildren, children through adoption, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, grandchildren and grandparents of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States who sacrificed their life for our way of life, while serving in the United States military.

he Cabell County Committee for the Gold Star Memorial Monument, run by brothers Jerry and Jody Beckett and Chuck Zerkle, raised $50,000 for the memorial - all from community donations. The committee didn't have to use any funds from the Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, which supports efforts around the country to erect Gold Star family memorials.

The memorial sits near Barboursville Park lake.

"This is not about Woody Williams," Williams said. "If it weren't for those who sacrificed their life to keep me a free American, I wouldn't even be here."

Freedom has always required sacrifice, Williams said.

"This memorial will not erase the hurt, or the sorrow, or the heartache," he said. "Or take the place of the one who was lost, but perhaps it will serve as a reminder that this community shares their love and respect. As loved ones look at this memorial and meditate and remember, may it bring some peace and solace to their hearts knowing that this community does remember and will not forget those who gave their life in our armed forces, not only for us but for others who have never known the true value of freedom."

Shirley White said Gold Star mothers want to honor their sons and daughters every chance they get.

"As long as we say our children's names, they are still with us," she said.

The Gold Star Mothers helped raise money for the memorial. White said service is something else that keeps them close to their children.

"We find comfort in being together, but we also find strength in our projects that we do," she said. "We do the things our children no longer can."

Barboursville Mayor Chris Tatum declared Oct. 30 to be Gold Star Family Day.

The original Gold Star Memorial Monument was established at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar.