May 1 2019
Christopher Poulsen | KEPR
WALLA WALLA, Wash. — For families of those protecting our country, earning a Gold Star is not an honor one would want.
Gold Star Families are families who lose loved ones in a time of war.
A monument to honor these families broke ground Wednesday morning, the first of its kind in Washington.
It'll eventually be installed at Ft. Walla Walla Park as a symbol of families paying the ultimate price for our freedom.
Families like Walla Walla veterinarian Dr. Susan Fazzari.
Her son, Army 1st Lt. Mathew Fazzari never came home from Afghanistan.
Lt. Fazzari died in a combat rescue mission, leaving behind a young wife and two sons.
His mother says these days the whole family is trying to live their lives to the fullest so Mathew's sacrifice wasn't in vain.
"We spend a lot of time at the little league field, soccer fields. We honor his memory by fulfilling what he'd want us to be doing," she said, ruffling her grandson's hair. "We miss him every day, we all miss him."
Vietnam Air Force Veteran Bob Brock from Dixie, Washington says drives his patriotic Jeep all over the country to witness groundbreakings just like Wednesday's.
The veteran's Jeep is decked out with flags, a custom paint job resembling the American flag, with LED lights and speakers for playing patriotic songs.
"It's a tribute to our country, to people who love it in their hearts," he explained. "You don't have to wear a uniform to love the country as much as a veteran. It's in all of us."
Brock said he drives the Jeep in memory of those who can't.
"I remembered a lot of people that didn't make it back," he said. "I wanted to put something together to honor our veterans and our country."
The veteran says his Jeep and Walla Walla's forthcoming monument are just symbols.
"It has no spirit inside of it," he said. "It wakes up the spirit inside of you."
A symbol Brock said he's proud to have popping up in his own backyard.
Dr. Fazzari says she's glad to see the monument so close to the area Mathew grew up.
She said it's an excellent reminder, or symbol, of what Gold Star Families like hers are all about.
"It stands for a son or daughter that has fought for the freedoms we hold dear," she said. "That sometimes we take for granted."
Organizers told Action News they're still fund-raising for the monument; they're currently $50 thousand short.