Jan 19 2020
Rebecca Barnabi |The News Virginian
FISHERSVILLE — A community effort has begun to raise funds to build a monument near the Wilson Workforce & Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville to honor the sacrifice of local men and women who have served in the military.
Last June, the Augusta County School Board voted 5-0 to approve a proposal from the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to erect a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument honoring the families of service men and women who sacrificed their lives while serving in the military.
The first monthly community meeting to raise approximately $60,000 was held Thursday night at Valley Career and Technical Center, across the street from the proposed site of the monument.
“This is our primary means of raising money — selling these bricks,” said Jerry Dumont, an honorary board member of the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.
Dumont said that 12 community members attended and three local organizations were represented, including American Legion Post No. 188 of Harrisonburg, American Legion Post No. 13 of Staunton and VCTC.
According to the foundation’s web site, 59 memorials of have been dedicated in 45 states.
The monument proposed for Fishersville would be the Shenandoah Valley monument, the third monument proposed in Virginia. Others are under proposal in Lovettesville and Norfolk/Hampton. One monument has been completed in Bedford, Virginia.
The black granite monument would be 6 feet tall and 16 feet wide, according to Dumont, on a concrete slab surrounded by memorial bricks with a United States flag and flags from each branch of the U. S. military behind the monument.
The names of loved ones lost from the Shenandoah Valley will be engraved onto the monument, which will stand near a monument that was erected in May 2016 and dedicated to the men and women who served at the Woodrow Wilson General Hospital during World War II. The hospital helped rehabilitate soldiers who fought overseas in World War II.
“Around here, when it comes to honoring military veterans, it gets done,” said Robert Ham, a masonry instructor at Valley Career and Technical Center, at Thursday’s meeting.
Eddie Humes, commander of Shenandoah Valley Post No. 188, attended Thursday’s meeting and said the memorial is “long overdue.”
“This is the first memorial of this type in the valley that recognizes the Gold Star Families of our soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Humes.
Hershel “Woody” Williams, 96, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient, lives in West Virginia. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and was present at the Battle of Iowa Jima when a photographer captured the raising of the American flag which was later memorialized into a monument in Arlington.
Williams began the foundation six years ago. The goal is to build a monument in every state.
As previously reported in The News Virginian, Williams was a taxi driver in his hometown in West Virginia before he joined the Marines. He delivered Western Union telegraph notices to families who lost loved ones overseas in World War I.
The families would later be known as Gold Star Families.
Individuals and organizations who would like to make donations for the monument can do so online at https://shenandoah.online/ or by emailing Humes at firstname.lastname@example.org.