MADISON, Wis – A new memorial to the state’s Gold Star families graces the grounds of the state capitol in Madison after a formal dedication ceremony Aug. 22.
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony, and articulated the importance of honoring Gold Star families, their service and sacrifice.
"It was truly humbling to be present at the dedication of the Gold Star memorial marker at our state capitol," Dunbar said. "It is our Gold Star families who bear the pain and must daily carry the scar of loss. We are united as a people and as a country, cognizant that we owe so much to the warrior and the Gold Star family. Those who died in the service of our nation and their families who carry on their memory were patriots and heroes worthy of our deepest respect and admiration."
The new Gold Star memorial marker sits in the Gold Star Memorial Garden near the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Mifflin Street on the state capitol grounds. It represents the first Gold Star memorial marker placed on any capitol grounds in the country, according to Chuck McCafferty, who along with his wife, Linda, co-chairs the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation.
The Wisconsin Garden Club Federation worked with the Wisconsin Department of Administration to garner approval last year from the state capitol and Executive Residence Board (SCERB) to install the memorial marker in front of the existing Gold Star Memorial Garden. The gold star of flowers in the North Hamilton section of the Capitol grounds near Wisconsin Avenue dates to World War I.
“The Gold Star Memorial Garden on the Capitol grounds has served for decades as a reminder of military families who have lost relatives in combat, and this marker will build further awareness of the garden’s significance,” Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Ellen Nowak said. “On behalf of Governor Walker and the State of Wisconsin, we appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped make this marker a reality, and we honor all Gold Star families and the men and women who have protected our nation by serving in the United States Armed Services.”
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Daniel Zimmerman echoed that sentiment.
“The families of our fallen comrades have made a great sacrifice for this country,” Zimmerman said. “This tribute is one small token of our appreciation. With this new marker, we now have a reminder to all who pass by that freedom isn’t free.”