INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — During November, News 8 is shining a special spotlight on some of the veterans in the community.
It’s an honor no one wants. It’s a debt that can never be repaid. The proud Hoosiers who sacrificed their lives while serving in our nation’s military leave behind family and friends we respectfully call Gold Star Families.
Jill Fewell knows the pain of being a Gold Star Family member. Her cousin, Indiana National Guard Staff Sgt. Andrew St. John, died in 2019 during a training accident at Fort Hood, Texas. She said St. John came from a family of servants. Fewell said this and other tragedies leave a hole in families’ hearts that cannot be filled.
Fewell is the project leader for the Indiana Gold Star Families Memorial Monument. The group’s passion for veterans and Gold Star Families inspired it to raise $150,000 for a memorial. The group is only $43,000 away from its goal. The 7-foot high, black granite monument would be built on the American Legion Mall.
Fewell said this project has been a long time coming. “The families are looking forward to having a place to come and remember their loved one and make sure no one forgets them and their sacrifice.”
In their hearts and minds, Gold Star Families carry the weight of their loved ones’ sacrifices. The memorial would provide a physical place for them to lay down their burdens and reflect.
“The design of the memorial indicates a cut out silhouette of a soldier. That represents the missing. They’re the one who isn’t at the dinner table.” Fewell said.
She believes the community must lift up the families of the soldiers whose lives and sacrifices have laid the foundation for our democracy. “Those freedoms are made possible by families that gave up somebody. They gave up a loved one to protect those freedoms.”
The foundation hopes to break ground on the monument in April and dedicate it in May. The memorial is part of the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.