Jan 07 2021
Don Stacom | Hartford Courant
If they can raise about $50,000 this year, Peter Galgano and a volunteer organization plan to erect a monument in September as Connecticut’s way to honor the sacrifice of Gold Star families.
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Connecticut organization wants to put up the black granite monument in Berlin, the geographic center of the state.
“Some states have two or three of these monuments, but this would be the only one in Connecticut,” said Galgano, a Berlin resident who works extensively on veterans issues in the state.
Plainville has a small stone memorial for that town’s Gold Star families, but the Berlin monument will be the only one connected with the nonprofit Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and is intended for all Connecticut Gold Star families.
Based in Louisville, the foundation seeks to place identical 7-foot-high, 12-foot-long granite monuments across the country. So far, they stand in more than 45 states. The monuments are divided into four, with the most prominent feature a cut-out silhouette of a saluting service member.
Galgano wanted Connecticut’s memorial to be in Veterans Memorial Park in his town, and was excited in the fall when a statewide Gold Star monument committee chose that as the best location.
“When Berlin was picked as the location, a lot of families contacted me to say they love the location because it’s easy to get to from Danbury or Bridgeport or wherever, and they love the park, too.
The monument will be for families of military service members who lost their lives while serving the country. Its name goes back to WWI, when families with someone serving in the military put up a flag with a blue star at their home. If the relative was killed, a gold star replaced the blue one.
Albany, New York, and Exter, Rhode Island, have the closest Gold Star monuments to Connecticut. Volunteers in the state have been working with the Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to put one in Connecticut, and have a Facebook page for the campaign: tinyurl.com/y36ycp5g.
Although it has no monument, Connecticut does pay tribute to its Gold Star families. The I-95 bridge between New London and Groton is named the Gold Star Bridge, and the state also provides specialized license plates to members of Gold Star families.
Volunteers hope to have the monument built by Sept. 26, which is designated this year as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day.
“COVID has delayed things, but we’re still aiming for that — and at the very minimum, a dedication and groundbreaking that day,” Galgano said Tuesday.
Berlin and its veterans commission will put in about $15,000 to $20,000 of the remaining $70,000 expense, either through cash or services, he said.
Organizers are looking for veterans service groups including VFW and American Legion posts to pitch in, and maintain a fund at hwwmohf.kindful.com/?campaign=346773. They emphasize that donations must be designated “Connecticut memorial.”