Havre de Grace city officials, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and several Gold Star Mothers joined together Monday to break ground for a new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Concord Point Park.
During the ceremony, Glassman announced the county is pledging $10,000 to match the commitment Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin and the City Council have made to help fund installation of the memorial.
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will honor Gold Star Families, preserve the memory of the fallen, and stand as a stark reminder that freedom is not free. The monument will be located at Concord Point near the lighthouse entrance to the promenade. When completed it will be the first of its kind in Harford County.
"There is pain and sadness that never goes away for family members who lose a love one that is serving in the line of duty, whether it is a mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, husband or wife, this pain is forever," said Martin, while speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony. "In Havre de Grace we take our patriotism and our respect for those who serve very seriously."
Donations toward the monument can be made by cash or check, payable to MCL- Maryland Marines/GoldStar and mailed to 102 Tidewater Drive, Havre De Grace, MD 21078 or by credit card online at hwwmohf.org/havre-de-grace-md.html.
City officials decided last October that they would find a suitable location for a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, similar to those which other cities and towns have.
Monday's groundbreaking was held on the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that killed 2,977 people in New York City, the Pentagon in northern Virginia and in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The monument was suggested by members of the Harford County Commission on Veterans Affairs, which is chaired by Havre de Grace resident Johnny Boker.
Organizers of the Havre de Grace monument campaign have estimated it will cost between $40,000 and $50,000.
Annapolis has a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, so Havre de Grace's is expected to be the second in Maryland. Donations have been sought over the past year.
The monument will have four panels, customized to the city or town it is home to, according to drawings and photographs of the Annapolis monument that were shown to city officials last fall. The front will have a cutout of the shape of a soldier, lost in the line of duty.
The Herschel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Foundation is behind the concept. Williams, from West Virginia, once worked as a cab driver delivering Western Union telegrams to families who had lost loved ones in battle, an experience that so moved him, he made plans to honor families like these for their sacrifices and those of their sons and daughters, according to the foundation.
"The goals and objectives of the Hershel 'Woody' Williams Medal of Honor Foundation are to continue to nurture the seed that Woody has planted and bring his full vision to fruition through this project," according to the foundation's website.