Apr 18 2022
Erica Drzewiecki | The Bristol Press
BERLIN – Passing by Veterans Memorial Park on Lower Lane this past week, black granite hung in the throngs of a boom forklift truck as our nation’s flag whipped in the breeze.
Now a new monument stands in the park, a tribute to the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Its official name is the Woody Williams Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, and it’s the first of its kind to land in Connecticut.
The CT Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee, in conjunction with the Woody Williams Foundation and the town of Berlin, will host a dedication ceremony and official unveiling on Saturday, April 23 at 1 p.m.
Gold Star Families who sacrificed a loved one in service to our country and members of the public are all invited to attend.
Special guest speaker will be retired U.S. Marine and Iwo Jima survivor CWO4 Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Medal of Honor Recipient and co-founder of the foundation. Other guest speakers will include Berlin Mayor Mark Kaczynski and CT Gold Star Mothers President Helen Keiser-Pedersen.
The ceremony will open with the posting of the colors by the Marine Corps League, Hardware City Detachment and Meriden’s Antique Veterans before the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, led by New England Gold Star Wives President Barbara Howard and Vice President Kathie Blamire. Singing the National Anthem will be Leslie Manselle, Gold Star Sister of U.S. Army Pvt. Eugene Manselle, killed in Vietnam.
An invocation and moment of silence will follow, led by Gold Star parents Leesa and Ray Phillippon, whose son, U.S. Marine LCpl Lawrence Philippon, was killed in Iraq. USMC Vietnam-era veteran Tom Callinan will then provide a musical interlude, singing, “When the Blue Star turned to Gold.”
Finally, the highly-anticipated monument unveiling will take place at the hands of the Gold Star Families, followed by a 21-gun salute and the sounding of Taps.
The Philippons will then give a benediction before families are invited to place flowers by the monument to the sounds of “God Bless America” and “Some Gave All, All Gave Some.”
A reception will follow the ceremony at the VFW Post 10732 at 152 Massirio Dr., Berlin. The post is located next to the park and has parking available.
The front of the monument is identical to 92 others currently standing across the U.S., bearing the words, “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who sacrificed Loved Ones for our Freedom.”
The back side, to be revealed for the first time during the ceremony, is uniquely dedicated to our state’s Gold Star Families and their fallen heroes.