Governor Laura Kelly applauded the Capitol Preservation Committee’s unanimous vote Tuesday to place a memorial honoring Gold Star families on the Veterans’ Walk at the Kansas Statehouse.

Governor Kelly asked LTG Perry Wiggins, Executive Director of the Governor’s Military Council, to explore the process to install a permanent monument after Hershel “Woody” Williams, a retired Marine Corps warrant officer and the only living Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, personally challenged her to add a Gold Star Families Monument on Statehouse grounds. The two met at the dedication of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Olathe Veteran’s Memorial Park in September, 2020.

Under the Governor’s direction, LTG Wiggins spearheaded the formation of the Gold Star Memorial Fundraising Committee through the Military Council to begin gathering donations for the memorial, and then took the Governor’s recommendation to the Capitol Preservation Committee.

“The loved ones our fallen military servicemembers leave behind — our Gold Star Families — bravely endure the loss of these men and women,” Governor Kelly said. “I took Mr. Williams’ challenge seriously – and I agree that installing a permanent memorial to Gold Star Families on the Statehouse grounds is a fitting tribute to their courage and resilience.

“Tuesday’s vote is a good first step to make this vision a reality – and I look forward to working with the Governor’s Military Council and with the Legislature to get this done next session.”

A Gold Star Family is the immediate family of a fallen service member who died while serving in a time of conflict.

“Kansas is one of the only states that does not have a Gold Star Family memorial on Statehouse grounds – and we would like to see that change,” LTG Perry Wiggins, Executive Director of the Governor’s Military Council, said. “We as a nation and a state owe these families a special debt for the service and sacrifice they have shown, and continue to show.”

Should the full Legislature approve the proposal, the monument would consist of a plaque mounted on a granite stone, place on the Veterans’ Walk.