Sep. 5, 2016
Claire Osborn | myStatesman
An American Legion post in Cedar Park wants to make sure it is the first city in Texas to have a monument honoring Gold Star families.
American Legion Hunter-Morris Memorial Post 911 is raising $80,000 for the monument to be placed in Veterans Memorial Park on land donated by the city of Cedar Park, said Mary Lopez Dale, a past commander of the post. The legion has raised more than $30,000 since March for the memorial to honor Central Texas Gold Star families, she said.
The monument cost $50,000, but the shipping and construction costs to erect it on the site will be around $25,000 to $30,000, Dale said.
A Gold Star family is one with an immediate relative killed during active duty in the U.S. armed forces. Chuck Rogers, a member of the legion post in Cedar Park, said he proposed the monument because he felt Gold Star families weren’t getting attention. "I wanted to pay tribute to their suffering," he said.
Rogers said the monument will be built with plans from the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation. Rogers said he knows Williams, a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor for combat on Iwo Jima in World War II, and is impressed by his foundation, which provides communities with a design for the Gold Star monuments.
Gold Star monument similar to this would be erected in Cedar Park after supporters raise $80,000.
Each of the monuments are made of black granite, have a gold star, a portion cut out to look like a missing solder and say "A tribute to Mothers and Fathers and Gold Star families who sacrificed a loved one for our freedom."
Although two other cities in Texas — McKinney and Gainesville — are making plans for such monuments, Cedar Park is the furthest along in its efforts, said Brent Casey, Williams’ nephew. There are 10 finished Gold Star monuments in the country and 34 are in progress, said Casey.
Lisa Morris, whose son Matthew Morris is one of the people the American Legion Post in Cedar Park is named after, said the monument would help her remember that other people know what her family had lost.
Matthew Morris, a 23-year-old Army specialist from Cedar Park, was stationed in Iraq fixing small engines on an Army base when he volunteered to be a driver for a military transition team that had lost its driver, Lisa Morris said.
As he was driving the lead car with the commander in it, he ran over an improvised explosive device on April 6, 2008, she said. The blast immediately killed the commander, and her son died later during surgery, she said.
"He was talkative, very friendly and loved riding his motorcycle," she said. "His intention was to come back, go to school and eventually become a high school history teacher." He is survived by three siblings, including a brother who is serving in the Air Force, Lisa Morris said.
For more information about the effort to raise money for the monument, visit legion911.org.