Feb 18 2020
Greg Jordan | Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PRINCETON — Little orange flags lined up near the treads of an Army tank standing near the Mercer County Courthouse now mark the future site of a new memorial which will honor the families with loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
In June of 2019, a local committee started raising the money needed to erect a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Mercer County. The monument’s estimated cost was about $43,000, but County Commissioner Bill Archer said during the committee’s most recent meeting Feb. 14 that the fund drive has exceeded its goal.
“We’re well over what we need,” Archer said. “We’ve got a little bit more than $72,000. Right now, I assume that even more contributions are coming in. The cost of the monument is between $42,000 and $43,000. We can made additions like additional benches. We can landscape round it and do some more things around it to try and enhance the appearance of it.”
Fundraising started when Archer met Hershel “Woody” Williams, a World War II veteran and a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Williams received the medal in recognition of his actions during the 1944 Battle of Iwo Jima. Archer spoke to Williams during the 2019 Marine Corps League Mideast Division Conference near Princeton.
The fundraising effort was helped by a major $30,000 matching grant pledge from an anonymous donor along with contributions from local businesses and individuals, Archer said. For example, Grants Supermarket donated $1,000 to the monument project.
Archer and other volunteers looked through vintage photographs of railroad locomotives, coal mines, and an aerial photograph of East River Mountain shot by the late photographer and World War II veteran Mel Grubb. Local images will be part of the monument’s features.
“Well, the order’s been placed,” Archer said of the monument’s parts. “They’ve already submitted the order last week to create the monument and we’ve got site prep and decided on groundbreaking, maybe in mid- to late March.”
Three of the monument’s four panels will have images representing patriotism, homeland and sacrifice. An image of the historic flag raising on Iwo Jima will represent patriotism and East River Mountain will represent the homeland. An image representing sacrifice has not been chose yet, committee member Donna Blankenship said.
The new Gold Star Families Memorial will be erected next to the Memorial Building which houses the Those Who Served War Museum. An M41 Bulldog Walker tank will be moved a little to make room, Archer said.