Sullivan County to vote on donation for Gold Star Families memorial

Douglas Counts |

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – There will soon be another memorial along Fort Henry Drive in Kingsport. Work is expected to begin this spring on a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in J. Fred Johnson Park, which is next door to the current Veterans Memorial.

The old Highway Dept. building at the intersection of Eastman Road and Fort Henry Drive will be torn down.

“This is a totally separate memorial, it will be next door… And the new memorial will be between the new parking space and the veterans memorial that is behind us now,” 11th Dist. Sullivan Co. Commissioner John Gardner said.

A Gold Star Family is a family member of anyone who has lost a military member by way of conflict from WWI to current conflicts. This memorial represents not only the soldier who was lost but their families as well. And this memorial will represent some near 300 members.

At its February 21 meeting, the Sullivan Co. Commission will pass a resolution to appropriate $10,000 from the general fund for a one-time donation toward the construction of a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. The City of Kingsport has also appropriated $10,000 and other businesses have also donated toward the $75,000 cost to build the memorial.

“Medal of Honor Recipient Herschel Williams — it’s his foundation that is bringing this to Kingsport. What he does, he goes into the community and he puts up the first $5,000 and then it is up to the community to raise the rest of it,” Gardner said.

This item appears on the Sullivan Co. Commission’s consent agenda, which means there was no opposition to it from any commissioners and the vote is expected to be unanimous.

“This is one of those special cases where we were all behind it and we’re all united in this somehow because we all know people who have experienced a loss of someone by way of military or conflict,” Gardner said, “Regardless of any other political differences that come up when you are part of a municipal body, I cannot point to a single member of our body that is not just an absolute patriot and we all really got behind this and we really enjoyed putting our names on it. Of course, I was the sponsor, but everybody on the commission signed on as a co-sponsor.”

The Kingsport memorial is the 18th one that will be constructed. Demolition of the building expected to begin this spring and a groundbreaking tentatively set for November 21, 2017.

“I’ve got to meet a lot of people who’ll be represented by this monument, and they’re very happy about it, very excited to see it come. And I know they’ll be part of the dedication when it does happen,” Gardner said.

For more information about the Kingsport memorial or to make a donation, go to