LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Gold Star Memorial Monument was dedicated in September of last year, so this makes it the first time it is around for Memorial Day.
The monument is meant to honor those families who have loved ones that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The monument was even designed by Gold Star Families here in Arkansas.
The Gold Star Memorial has a silhouette of a soldier that represents the fact that although the soldier isn’t here physically we remember them and we pause to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country this memorial day. The monument has a special meaning for the men and women it represents.
“Memorial Day is a holiday that we recognize those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, but for us, Memorial Day is every day,” said Sharri Briley.
Not a day goes by that Sharri doesn’t think of her husband, Chief Warrant Officer Donovan Briley.
“He was a Black hawk pilot,” said Briley.
He was killed in action in Somalia and was part of the inspiration for the movie ‘BlackHawk Down’ for Sharri, the Gold Star Monument represents all the emotions of patriotism and sacrifice that her husband gave to this country.
“I know the blood, sweat, and tears and the emotions that went into this so it’s a very meaningful monument for us,” said Sharri. “As part of my husband being in the Service, I served just as well.”
Leslie Haynes says she picked the chains on the back of the memorial to represent Gold Star Families’ strength but now have that missing link. Her husband, Staff Sergeant Rodric Haynes died from a rare cancer but served three tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is originally from Michigan but Leslie feels the love from Arkansans.
“Really stand out to let me know Arkansas cares about their people, no matter if they’re born and bred here or they are transplants,” said Haynes.
Both Briley and Haynes helped design the monument.
“For people to come out here who have no idea and then they read about it, they may even look up what the meaning of a Gold Star Family is, what it consists of,” said Haynes.
“I’m glad that it’s here, no just for Memorial day,” said Briley.
Andrea Fisher with Survivor outreach services says she planned to have approximately 600 boots on the capitol steps this weekend to represent every one of the fallen soldiers from Arkansas since 911. Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has to push that back to Gold Star Family Weekend.