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College of the Ozarks Breaks Ground on the Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial Today, Nov. 17

Nov. 17, 2016 

Valorie Coleman | College of the Ozarks

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks broke ground for The Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial today, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, with more than 500 guests in attendance at the Veterans Grove on the College campus. 

The program included comments from Dr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks; the Presentation of Colors by the C of O Bobcat Company Army ROTC; and the national anthem, played by the College of the Ozarks Concert Band. Two special guests, both World War II Veterans who served in Iwo Jima, also addressed those gathered – Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, chancellor of the University of Richmond, and Hershel Woody Williams, Medal of Honor recipient. 

Those in attendance included Gold Star Families, Veterans, state representatives, members of the community, faculty, and staff. 

The purpose of The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is to honor Gold Star Families (those who have lost immediate family members killed in their service to the country), to preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that freedom is not free. 

“We are honored to provide this Memorial for those who have lost loved ones who have been killed in service to our country,” said College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis. “They made a huge sacrifice for our freedom and should be properly recognized. We can never replace lost loved ones, but we can honor their memories and these families who have given so much.” 

The Memorial on the College of the Ozarks campus is presented in cooperation with The Hershel Woody Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation, Inc. This will be the first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in the state of Missouri. 

Event ceremony

Those who participated in the groundbreaking are as follows:

  • Dr. Jerry C. Davis, president of College of the Ozarks
  • Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, chancellor of the University of Richmond
  • Hershel Woody Williams, Medal of Honor recipient from Iwo Jima and founder of the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation
  • Chad Graham, president and director of operations for Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation
  • Kirk Elmquist, tournament director at Big Cedar Lodge Legends presented by Bass Bro Shops
  • Bryan Cizek, director of patriotic activities, College of the Ozarks
  • Pam Hengan, Gold Star Mother. Hengan’s son, Matthew, was killed in Iraq in June 2011 at age 22.
  • Dr. Donn Russell, professor of agriculture, College of the Ozarks. Russell’s brother was killed in Vietnam.
  • Rep. Jeff Justus, Missouri Representative District 156
  • Rep. Don Phillips, Missouri Representative District 138
  • Ed Wilson, 1 SG, U.S. Army (Ret.). Wilson is a board member of the Veterans and Military Coalition of the Ozarks.
  • Tanner Koenig, C of O junior agriculture education and business major and student construction worker
  • Emma Carter, C of O senior studio art and graphic design major and student designer of the memorial
  • Katherine Yung, C of O senior art education major and student designer for the memorial

Heilman, 90, tours cross-country on his motorcycle, visiting memorials throughout the U.S. In addition to his experiences and travels as a Marine in World War II in the South Pacific and Japan, he has covered more than 140 countries as he has escorted travel groups abroad annually for more than 30 years. He became chancellor at the University of Richmond in 1988, after serving as president and chief executive officer for approximately 17 years. Prior to this, Heilman had served as president of Meredith College, beginning in 1966. 

Hershel Woody Williams was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman for his actions on the island of Iwo Jima in February 1945. The Hershel Woody Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation, Inc. was established in 2010 and is a charitable 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that pursues specific endeavors and goals through the vision of Williams. The Foundation encourages, with the assistance of the American public and community leaders, establishing permanent Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in communities throughout the country and provides scholarships to eligible Gold Star Children. Its purpose is to honor Gold Star Families, relatives, and Gold Star Children who have sacrificed a loved one in the service of their country. 

“Heroes are those who paid the final sacrifice with their life,” Williams said. “Those are the true heroes. This Monument pays tribute and honors the families of those who sacrificed one or more of their loved ones in the armed forces for our freedoms.” 

Memorial description

The black granite monument will feature two sides. One side will bear the following inscription: Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Mothers, Fathers, and Relatives who have sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom. 

The other side tells a story through the four granite panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. The scenes on each panel are a reflection of each community’s Gold Star Families and their fallen heroes. At the center of this tribute is the most distinct feature of the Monument, the cut out which represents the loved one who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom. College of the Ozarks seniors Katherine Yung, art education major, and Emma Carter, studio art/graphic design major, will help design the four panels. 

For additional information, contact Public Relations Director Valorie Coleman at (417) 690-2212. 

About College of the Ozarks 

College of the Ozarks is a Christian, liberal arts college located on a 1,000-acre campus in Point Lookout, Missouri. Christian values, hard work, and financial responsibility comprise the fundamental building blocks of the “Hard Work U.” experience. The college earns numerous accolades yearly, including being named the #1 Best Value College in the Midwest for 2015 by “U.S. News & World Report.” 

The Keeter Center — the College’s upscale lodge, restaurant, and conference facility — was ranked the No. 1 Top Small Hotel in the U.S. by TripAdvisor for 2016. It features fine dining, historic lodging, and meeting rooms. With more than 350 student workers, it is the largest work station on the College of the Ozarks campus. 

To achieve its vision, College of the Ozarks pursues academic, vocational, Christian, patriotic and cultural goals. These goals are mirrored in School of the Ozarks, begun in fall 2012 for high school students, and the S. Truett Cathy Lower School, opened in fall 2014 to K-sixth grade students. Seventh and eighth grades were added in fall 2015, completing the K-college model. For information, call the public relations office at (417) 690-2212 or visit Follow College of the Ozarks at or on Twitter @CofOHardWorkU.