Nov 10 2023
Alani Letang | Fox 5
AN DIEGO — On Friday, military families of loved ones who died during service gathered for an unveiling of a monument at Miramar National Cemetery.
A dedication ceremony was held for the reveal, and FOX 5 spoke with families about what it meant to bear witness to the honor.
Gold Star family members were able to help pull off the black cloth of the new monument.
“It’s perfect, it’s perfect. They couldn’t do anything better than what they gave us here today,” said Patricia Lee, who lost her father in the Vietnam War.
The monument is double-sided, wrapped with messages of sacrifice, patriotism, and freedom. Plus, there is a saluting soldier cutout.
Gold Star families is a title given to a military family who has lost loved ones in the line of duty.
FOX 5 spoke with two daughters of the Vietnam War, Lee and Shirley Love.
Lee’s dad was 38 years old and served nearly 19 years with the Army when he was killed. Lee was 12 years old at the time of her dad’s passing.
“He was a hero, he was awarded the Silver Star, and it was brave, so this (monument) is thank you to him too, not just my family,” Lee said.
Love was one year old when her dad was killed at 19 years old. Love’s father served two years in the army.
When she saw the monument, Love said, “It’s kind of like one of those ‘wow,’ just in awe, and taking it in, it’s beautiful, and I’m grateful we have that here.”
The Woody Williams Foundation led the monument’s initiative to San Diego. Woody’s family said he was the last living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.
Woody died in 2022 at the age of 98 years old. Chad Graham is Woody’s grandson, and president and CEO of the foundation.
“The thing that everyone noticed, was his humility, his motto was the cause is greater than I and that’s how he lived his life,” Graham said.
Graham said Grandpa Woody wore his medal in honor of Gold Star families. Bringing a monument to San Diego is Woody’s continued legacy.
“It belongs to these families, to have somewhere that is theirs, they can call their own, permanent place. Especially with the amount of families we have here, it was the right thing to do,” Graham said.
For Lee and Love, they said the monument is a place to remember and honor their dad.
“I guess I never grieved my father. I just had this longing of missing something,” Love said. “It never goes away. Being a Gold Star kid, you have a broken heart forever, doesn’t matter how much time has passed,” Lee said.
The Woody Williams Foundation has 132 Gold Star monuments in 50 states and Guam. The foundation has another 65 monuments in progress.