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New monument honoring Gold Star Families unveiled at National D-Day Memorial

It's the first monument of its kind in Virginia

BEDFORD, Va. – More than 1,700 people paid their respects to those who have served our country at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford on this Memorial Day.

"For the loved ones who lost a loved one in our armed forces at any time in our history, the war is never over, the loss never goes away," WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams said.

Monday morning's ceremony honored all service members with music, a wreath-laying and raising the flag.

It had a special focus, though, as Virginia's first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was unveiled.

It represents the sacrifice of those left behind when a military family member is killed in action.

"America owes these people an honor and a tribute that we have never given them," Williams said.

Hershel "Woody" Williams is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the battle of Iwo Jima and one of only five living Medal of Honor recipients from World War II. He's led the charge in establishing these monuments.

"Many, many communities in our country are going to do what this community did," Williams said.

Photos from the 1940s depicting the Bedford Boys are on the monument. The words homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice line the bottom. The outline of a service member symbolizes those who made the ultimate sacrifice, who died while serving our country. When the sun hits the cutout, it casts the shadow of the service member saluting on the ground.

"First thing I see is the missing man. And of course my brother being missing, it just tears my heart up," Gold Star Family member Mathilde Bennett said.

Many Gold Star Family members tell WSLS 10 they're touched by this tribute.

"It's something you never forget, especially when it's your son or your child. At the same time, we've been fortunate enough to have his legacy go on with scholarships, again telling the story and never letting it be forgotten," said Gold Star Family member Ruth Ambrogi.

Many shared a message for all Americans on this Memorial Day.

"Please remember our boys, the ones that are still fighting, the ones that are missing, the ones who have gone on. Pray for them, all of them," Bennett said.

"We must not forget. Never ever, we must not forget that we're hereMore than 1,700 people paid their respects to those who have served our country at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford on this Memorial Day.

"For the loved ones who lost a loved one in our armed forces at any time in our history, the war is never over, the loss never goes away," WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams said.

Monday morning's ceremony honored all service members with music, a wreath-laying and raising the flag.

It had a special focus, though, as Virginia's first Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was unveiled.

It represents the sacrifice of those left behind when a military family member is killed in action.

"America owes these people an honor and a tribute that we have never given them," Williams said.

Hershel "Woody" Williams is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Battle of Iwo Jima and one of only five living Medal of Honor recipients from World War II. He's led the charge in establishing these monuments.

"Many, many communities in our country are going to do what this community did," Williams said.

Photos from the 1940s depicting the Bedford Boys are on the monument. The words homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice line the bottom. The outline of a service member symbolizes those who made the ultimate sacrifice, who died while serving our country. When the sun hits the cutout, it casts the shadow of the service member saluting on the ground.

"First thing I see is the missing man. And of course my brother being missing, it just tears my heart up," Gold Star Family member Mathilde Bennett said.

Many Gold Star Family members tell WSLS 10 they're touched by this tribute.

"It's something you never forget, especially when it's your son or your child. At the same time, we've been fortunate enough to have his legacy go on with scholarships, again telling the story and never letting it be forgotten," said Gold Star Family member Ruth Ambrogi.

Many shared a message for all Americans on this Memorial Day.

"Please remember our boys, the ones that are still fighting, the ones that are missing, the ones who have gone on. Pray for them, all of them," Bennett said.

"We must not forget. Never ever, we must not forget that we're here, because they can't be," Williams said.

The new monument in Bedford is the 21st Gold Star Family Memorial Monument constructed in the U.S. since 2013. The goal is to have one in every state.