WIESBADEN, Germany – U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Commander Colonel David W. Mayfield and Tommy Mize, Installation Management Command – Europe director, jointly unveiled a new Gold Star Memorial, Oct. 11 on Clay Kaserne.
Evident in America’s deep commitment to its military, most Americans know the meaning behind a flag with a Gold Star. It is a decades-old tradition and a clear symbol of the meaning of sacrifice that our nation recognizes dating back to the war to end all wars.
It was during World War I, that service member families displayed small banners with a blue star for every immediate family member who was serving in the armed forces. If a serving family member lost their life, the family replaced the blue star with a gold star symbolizing the family had suffered the loss of an active duty loved one.
“Thanks to the immense efforts of Elizabeth Washington, the former U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Army Community Services Survivor Outreach Services Coordinator, and the wife of the former garrison commander Mario Washington, it was possible to realize what you see here today. It was her idea to replace the original small plaque – damaged by weather and time,” said Mayfield.
It was Mrs. Washington’s idea to redesign the stone and memorial, and her negotiations and coordination with a local vender that resulted in the inscribed black marble and bronze star memorial.
“Your efforts are really reflected in this beautiful memorial. Thank you, Elizabeth,” said Mize.
This impressive monument was made possible by the collaborative efforts of several organizations across Clay Kaserne. Through the cooperation of the Wiesbaden Community Spouses Club, the Directorate of Public Works and ACS Survivor Outreach Services Program, this memorial went from an idea to a reality.
The memorial will now be a constant place of remembrance for the surviving family members to visit.
"I am truly grateful for this place. I'll be sure to come here regularly and remember my husband Israel. We live close by here and whenever possible I'll bring our three children too”, said Inga Eichner-Cervantes, the surviving spouse of Staff Sgt. Israel Cervantes, the victim of homicide in 2014.
“It is truly unique what the U.S. Army does for dependents of Soldiers who have died in the line of duty”, said former German Bundeswehr Command Sgt. Maj. Bruno Speer, the surviving half-brother of Spc. Robert Fritz Speer, a U.S. Army medic who died as a result of combat actions during the Vietnam War.
“That there is now this beautiful Gold Star tree, which has also just turned golden in its fall colors plus the memorial stone is wonderful and at the same time makes me even more grateful that America so honors the incomparable service of its soldiers," said Speer.
Several survivors attended the unveiling ceremony, including Sharon Tamrat and her son Jaleel Thomas-Tamrat, the surviving fiancée and child of Spc. Bryan Thomas, who died from injuries sustained in 2008.
“This tree and stone are a sign of recognition. We honor those fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and other loved ones who died in service to the nation,” said Mize. “We also honor and remember the family members who loved and supported them during their service…the ones who provided them with the strength to serve …the ones who served along-side with them…and continue to remember.”