Gold Star Memorial Monument being unveiled in Clinton Township

By: Alex Szwarc, Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published September 2, 2020

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On Sept. 17, a new Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will be unveiled at the Clinton Township Civic Center.

Arrangements for the monument, which will pay respects to families of servicemen and servicewomen who devoted their lives toward military efforts, were conducted by Nick and Karen Straffon, of Algonac.

The couple routinely pays homage to vets and their families, notably in terms of the annual “Wreaths Across America” — a fundraising mission that has partnered with the township since 2012, with wreaths laid in abundance at Resurrection Cemetery.

The Straffons are honorary board members for the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument, in association with World War II vet Hershel “Woody” Williams and his Medal of Honor Foundation. The 96-year-old Williams, of West Virginia, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima.

The black granite monument will feature two sides — one side bearing the words “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a Tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom,” and the other side featuring four granite panels with the words “Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice” inscribed.

Inspiration for the project developed in 2017, Karen Straffon said, when the state’s first and only monument was erected in Bay City.

“They go through the pain and sacrifice every day for the rest of their lives,” she said. “This is one way to make sure they are honored and not forgotten.”

As of late May, the foundation is responsible for establishing 60 monuments in 46 states and one U.S. territory. More than 70 additional monuments are underway in 45 states.

The Sept. 17 ceremony will feature Karen Straffon as a speaker, along with event emcee Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon. Other expected speakers include Major Gen. Brian Cummings and Paul Rogers. Williams is expected to appear virtually at the ceremony.

The Clinton Township Police Honor Guard will also be present, with taps being performed.

Cannon said Straffon has “done a lot through the years with vets and especially of families of vets who have been killed.”

As of Aug. 28, Cannon said the memorial board was “halfway home” to its goal of raising $75,000. This new monument will be located on the Civic Center grounds, not too far from the gazebo near the Historical Village.

“They like the way we treat our veterans,” Cannon said. “We honor our veterans at every possible opportunity, and this is just another way to do that.”

It’s an event that hits close to home for the supervisor, who grew up in a Gold Star family. He and his wife, Cheryl, plan to present a $10,000 check toward the cause at the event.

“I understand the pain of a Gold Star mother and a Gold Star grandmother,” he said.

The event is slated to begin at 3 p.m. The Civic Center is located at 40700 Romeo Plank Road.

The purchase of brick pavers helps build the black granite monument. Sizes and costs are: $125 for pavers 4 inches by 8 inches; $250 for pavers 8 inches by 8 inches; and $1,000 for pavers 16 inches by 16 inches (four 8 inch by 8 inch pavers). Order forms are available on the project’s Facebook page.

Checks for bricks or donations should be made payable to the Hershel Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and mailed to Karen Straffon, 5007 Pte. Tremble Road, Algonac, MI 48001.

For more information, email karencstraffon@comcast.net or visit hwwmohf.org/monuments/clinton-township-mi.html.

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