Nov 07 2019
Jeff Papworth |Idaho State Journal
Go back to summer 2018 in Long Beach, California, where Rebecca Webb attended an American Gold Star Mothers national convention.
It was an inspiring experience where the Pocatello resident discovered an objective she wanted to pursue, which was honoring fallen American soldiers and their families as well as assisting current military members and veterans.
“After I had went to that national convention, I felt a lot of encouragement and a lot of support,” Webb said. “Made great friends all across the United States and we were all mothers who shared a common bond: we had lost a son or daughter in military service to our nation.”
This April, she not only started an Idaho chapter of American Gold Star Mothers as president, but also saw the groundbreaking for the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument that she proposed.
In fall 2018, she started a project committee that is working with the Kentucky-based Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, which has provided direction for similar memorials around the country.
“I got myself into a lot, didn’t I?” said Webb, who added about leading the charge with the monument, “I will tell you I’ve never done anything like this before. But I can also tell you since beginning that process, I’ve never wavered in my conviction that I was supposed to do this, so I think there’s a purpose for it.”
The future Pocatello monument has been a larger project than she imagined and she is gracious for the support put forth. While a fall opening was not met, the Gold Star mother anticipates the project will be completed next spring or early summer.
“There are a lot of good people that have given both financially and in-kind donations and services,” Webb said. “I’m really in awe of the good people in our community and other communities that are supporting this memorial project.”
Webb is the mother of Christopher V. Webb, who had a 17-year career in the National Guard, where he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom for one year and became a master sergeant.
Christopher, whose hometown was Pocatello, died in June 2017. He received many awards in the military, including the Idaho Governor's Outstanding Unit Award and Meritorious Unit Commendation.
Like his mother, Christopher found motivation to honor fallen soldiers, helping fundraise money for the Sgt. Dan Brown Idaho Fallen Soldier Memorial in Jerome that honored Brown and other Idaho soldiers killed since 9/11.
When the Idaho Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is completed, Rebecca said she will most likely have tears in her eyes.
“I’m really excited to accomplish this,” Rebecca said. “It will be a really good feeling.”
The completion will not mark the end of her quest to honor fallen soldiers, their families in addition to helping soldiers and veterans.
She will continue to look to achieve that as a part of the Idaho Star Garnet Chapter of American Gold Star Mothers, which was given a charter for a department and chapter in Idaho in April.
“Nobody can quite understand the loss that I have went through like another Gold Star mother, so we have an instant bond,” Rebecca said. “Not only do we heal, but we heal through the process of giving back to others. It’s a way to honor the memory of our sons and daughters. It’s a way to interact with the public and talk to them about patriotism and sacrifice.”
The Idaho chapter has six members and growth is anticipated. Rebecca has asked members to work on an individual basis to serve their respective communities. At the end of this year, the group will participate in Operation Gratitude that sends care packages to soldiers overseas, first responders and other groups.
“I’ve recently talked to a couple of family members that have had recent losses in the state of Idaho just to let them know, ‘You are not alone and we understand and are here for you,’” Rebecca said. “And I think as we grow this organization and people become aware of what we’re doing, I think that others will want to contribute.”
Rebecca sees a lot of work left that she’s willing to fulfill.
“You either sit down in that grave or you pull yourself up, and I know my son would want me to be happy. I know my son would want me to go on. I know my son would want me to have a productive life,” Rebecca said. “He was always willing to help others and I do see him kind of by my side, cheering me on. That being said, I miss him every day.”