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Marker Given 'Visible' Home Off Broadway

Nov. 4, 2015 

Alan Froman | ThisWeek News 

The Grove City Gold Star Families Memorial Monument has an official location. 

City Council on Nov. 2 voted 4-1 to support placing the monument at the intersection of Broadway and Columbus Street. The space will be created when the intersection is realigned as part of the downtown library construction project.

The monument will be a tribute to families who lost loved ones in service to the country.

Steve Bennett cast the only vote against the resolution.

Bennett continued to express concern the memorial could be a dangerous distraction to motorists driving in the high-traffic area.

He also questioned the appropriateness of placing a monument in a commerce-oriented area where Gold Star families might come to reflect and remember those who died.

"The whole purpose of a Gold Star memorial is to be visible," said Grove City police officer John Darnell.

Darnell and police officer Chris White are leading the local project.

The feedback he and White have received from Gold Star families has been "very receptive" to the Broadway and Columbus Street site, Darnell said.

As for being a distraction, Darnell pulled out his cellphone.

"This is what causes distracted driving," he said.

The community has supported the project, as demonstrated by the almost $20,000 that has been raised through just three fundraising events, Darnell said.

The Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation has set a goal of placing a Gold Star families monument in every state.

Hershel "Woody" Williams, 92, is the last surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima. He visited Grove City Oct. 26-27, and his time in the city included visits to Central Crossing and Grove City high schools, where he spoke to students.

At Central Crossing, Williams said his Medal of Honor "really doesn't belong to me."

"I'm honored and privileged to wear it and to be the caretaker of it," he said. "It belongs to those Marines who never got to come home."

Those fallen heroes include two of the four Marines designated to guard him on Iwo Jima as he used a flamethrower to help create an opening for infantry.

The country has never had a memorial for the families of the military personnel who have perished, Williams said.

"That's a shame," he said.

When he joined the war effort as a farm boy from West Virginia, Williams said, he had no real concept of what war was like.

He learned fast, first landing on Guam and then moving on to Iwo Jima.

"Circumstances can change our lives," Williams said. "But it isn't the fact that circumstances happen. It's what we do with those circumstances," he said.