TOPEKA, Kan. -- The State of Kansas held a Gold Star Family memorial monument dedication ceremony, Sept. 23, 2022, at the Kansas State Capitol Visitors Center.
A Gold Star Family is the immediate family of a U.S. Armed Forces service member who died during a time of conflict, and the newly erected monument honors over 6,500 fallen Kansan service members.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly honored the state’s Gold Star families by unveiling the permanent monument on statehouse grounds.
“For Gold Star families - the families of our fallen service members - the pain of their loved one’s absence never, ever goes away,” said Kelly. “That’s why it is so important to honor the families of those we’ve lost, the families who have also made the ultimate sacrifice. They are a reminder of the tremendous price of our freedom.”
During the ceremony Former U.S. Senator Pat Roberts also spoke about what the unveiling of the monument meant to him.
“To me, military service can be encapsulated in two profound words -- ‘valor’ and ‘sacrifice’,” said Roberts. “That sacrifice is not only experienced by our troops, but also their families. For our Gold Star families, that sacrifice is unfathomably large. That’s why this monument is so significant; it not only recognizes our Gold Star Families, it also serves as a pledge that our fallen and their sacrifices will never be forgotten.”
The 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley Survivor Outreach Services assisted multiple Big Red One affiliated Gold Star Family members with the opportunity to attend the ceremony.
“My late husband was a part of the Big Red One, and the division has always done a phenomenal job of honoring their fallen,” said Sierra Herring, the 1st Infantry Division Artillery Soldier and Family Readiness Group support assistant. “The Big Red One has done a good job about supporting their Gold Star families, keeping us involved, and letting us continue to be a part of the tradition here.”
Herring, having been a Gold Star Family member for almost 20 years, said that her Fallen Soldier, U.S. Army Spc. Josph LeRoy Lister, would be proud to know that he and other fallen Soldiers were being honored in such a way with the unveiling of the monument.
“It would mean the world to Jo to know this monument was here,” said Herring. “When it came to his family, he had more pride than anything. So, the Lister-Herring family, we continue that by going to these types of events not just for Spc. Josph Lister, but to support the Soldiers that have Fallen that don’t have family there to represent them and continue their legacy.”
The monument, an approximate four-foot-tall marble stand, is topped with a plaque that reads, “Gold Star Memorial; dedicated by the grateful citizens of the state of Kansas in honor of those Gold Star Families who sacrificed a loved one for our liberties and freedom.”