Honoring Texas’ Gold Star Families

Published 8:22 am Saturday, October 7, 2017

by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas

Homeland. Family. Patriot. Sacrifice.

Those are the words on four panels that now stand side-by-side in Cedar Park, Texas.  Notably cut out from the black granite panels is the silhouette of a soldier standing tall in salute, representing the hole in the hearts of those whose family member paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The Central Texas Gold Star Family Memorial Monument is the first of its kind in Texas.  Dedicated on the eve of National Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, celebrated annually on the last Sunday of September, this new monument’s stated purpose is to “honor Gold Star Families, preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that Freedom is not free.”

We owe the idea behind this monument to the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Gold Star Families Foundation and their campaign to erect a memorial to Gold Star Families in every single state.

It may be Texas’ first, but it won’t be the last.  Similar monuments to recognize the service and sacrifice of Gold Star Families are planned for Weatherford, Bronte, and Dallas – to name a few.

That’s because the culture of reverence for our service members spans across our entire state – from Fort Bliss to the Red River Army Depot, Naval Air Station Kingsville to Sheppard Air Force Base.

Texas is home to one of every ten U.S. service members, and behind each of these service members is a mother, father, brother, sister, or other beloved relative who supports them.  This web reaches everyone; Gold Star Mother of Private First Class Austin Staggs in Weatherford noted that in Texas, “you don’t have to look far to see that somewhere, somehow you have a connection to the military.”

All in all, nearly 25,000 Texas families have joined the National Gold Star Family Registry since World War II.  The newly-erected Gold Star Family Memorial Monument in Cedar Park – and the others planned – will give them a place to reflect, pray, and gather with other mourning families for strength.

But the monuments are not just for those who have lost a loved one in their defense of freedom.  “This park is a showing of what our kids gave for them,” says Gold Star Mother of Private First Class Joe Christopher Robinson.

Cedar Park’s monument has already united local Gold Star Families and members of the community to promote reflection and remembrance.  A Memorial Day groundbreaking ceremony and Remembrance Walk – the first of a soon-to-be annual tradition – drew a large crowd this spring.

Keep an eye out for Gold Star Family monuments in your area.  We all owe the families of fallen service members’ our utmost support and honor.  And as Gold Star Mother of Staff Sergeant Jeffery Lee Hartley reminds her fellow Texans of the upcoming monument in Weatherford, “it’s your park, too.”

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Judiciary, and Intelligence Committees.