ELKIN — Anticipation is building for the placement of a Gold Star Memorial Monument in Elkin, the first of its kind in Northwestern NC and Southwest Virginia.
“We are very excited here and the surrounding areas. This has been a two and half year project finally coming to fruition,” said Jon Garing. Garing is committee chairman of the group which has worked on the project to bring the memorial to Elkin Municipal Park, located at 399 Hwy 268 West.
The monument, which is expected to be placed at the park on May 13, will represent the sacrifice of the families whose loved ones died in service to the nation.
Garing said anywhere from 20 to 40 Gold Star families are expected to attend a dedication ceremony planned for May 30 at 2 p.m.
The Memorial Day weekend ceremony will include more than 100 bike riders from The Rolling Thunder, an Army band, Color Guard and helicopter flyover. Special speakers lined for the ceremony include Herschel “Woody” Williams, 97, last surviving recipient of Medal of Honor WWII and Harold Frank, Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, 95, a survivor from D-Day at Utah beach, where he was shot and captured by Germans, was a WWII POW.
“We are anticipating a great event,” said Garing.
Town leaders and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members were joined by Gold Star Family, Don and Beth Garner, for a groundbreaking ceremony for the monument in October of last year.
Beth Garner said she was so appreciative of the work that had been done to raise funds for the project to draw awareness to the many families who have lost loved ones who were serving in the military.
“It would have meant so much to Mark,” added Garner. Garner’s son, U.S. Army Captain Mark Garner of Elkin was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Garner was an Elkin High School graduate as well as a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. The Elkin VFW Post 7794 is named the Captain Mark Garner Post in his memory.
The memorial monument, which will be located by the flagpole at the park, will have four panels representing homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice. Benches and plantings will be placed near the monument.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-258-4035 or follow her on Twitter @RippleReporterK.