POCATELLO — The dedication of the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in the Northgate development area of Pocatello is set for 1 p.m. May 28, according to monument committee chairperson Rebecca Webb.
About 100 Idaho Gold Star Family members are expected to attend the live monument event at 1775 Gold Star Drive in Pocatello, said Webb, who lost her son, Master Sgt. Christopher V. Webb, in June 2017.
In-person seating at the site of the Memorial Monument is limited, and COVID-19 issues made it prudent to avoid gathering large crowds there in a small space.
“With COVID, we have to be careful,” said Webb, who started the committee to build the monument in fall of 2018.
The monument dedication will be broadcast live on an 18-foot LED screen at the Portneuf Wellness Complex at 2375 Olympus Drive in Pocatello for additional members of the public to ensure that there is enough space for social distancing.
“The screen should allow people to see the dedication well,” Webb said.
And she says a special guest speaker who people will want to see at the event is Medal of Honor recipient, Hershel “Woody” Williams, who was recognized for his actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
He’s the last surviving veteran from World War II to have received the Medal of Honor.
Williams received it on Oct. 5, 1945, from President Harry S. Truman at the White House.
Meanwhile, to avoid traffic issues, Webb said buses will run people between the amphitheater and the parking lot of the monument at 1775 Gold Star Drive in Pocatello.
She notes it’s hard to predict how many people will come.
They want everybody who desires to participate in the dedication to have a way to do it that will accommodate a bigger crowd for the event, which has been in the works since fall 2018, Webb said.
So there will be an opportunity for those who watch the large screen broadcast to ride a bus over to the memorial site after the dedication ceremony is completed.
Webb says the project has been a new challenge for her personally.
“I’d never done anything like this before, but I feel exceedingly blessed personally because it has helped me through a difficult time of losing a child,” Webb said. “And my hope is it will bring healing to other Gold Star families.”
She says her experiences with the monument project have shown her that the world is full of good and kind and generous individuals, and she’s had the opportunity to meet many amazing people who have supported the project.
“We live in a great state and we have a wonderful community and they have been awesome in their support,” she said.
And Webb says it’s uplifting to see the project nearing the finish line.
“I’ve always had confidence that we would complete it,” she said. “I have a fantastic committee that’s been working hard for two and a half years to bring this monument to our community.”
Greg Gunter, who helped produce communication materials for the effort, said he was impressed by the monument committee.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how quickly that committee got that job done,” Gunter said. “They could have taken years.”
But they got it done remarkably quickly because the community got behind it and gave it support, he said.
Webb said the whole effort has received an outstanding response.
“People recognize how important it is to honor service members who have given their all for our freedoms,” she said.
In fact, the words on the monument are, “a tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and those they left behind.”
Webb suggests that people try to arrive early for the event so they can be seated before the program begins both at the Wellness Complex and the monument site.
Meanwhile, Webb notes that donations for the monument site are still welcome. The money will help with upkeep and any needed repairs to the site over time.
The organization is close to meeting its fundraising goals. Any additional donations to push it over the top and have the project fully funded are welcome, she said.
To donate, go online to www.IdahoGoldStarMemorial.com
Or make a check payable “HWWMOHF” and mail it to P.O. Box 4031, Pocatello, Idaho, 83201. Be sure to include “Idaho” on the memo space.