First Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Kansas planned for Olathe installation this fall

A rendering of the monument shows what a portion of it will look like, with a silhouette of a soldier representing a lost loved one.

The city of Olathe’s Veterans Memorial Park, 1025 S. Harrison Street, is on track to be the first place in the state of Kansas with a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.

Olathe’s Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee ordered the monument for delivery, installation and a community celebration in September 2020, according to a press release. The monument has been designed by the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation located in Louisville, Ken., which has erected 60 GSFMMs across 45 states — and 68 more in the works, including the one in Olathe.

“Although the monument is located in Olathe, it is being dedicated in honor of all Kansas Gold Star families from every city and every war or conflict,” said John Smith, Olathe American Legion Post 153 commander and committee member.

If a loved one is lost while actively serving in the U.S. armed forces, their family is considered a Gold Star family.

The 7-foot tall monument will be two-sided, with the following words on one side: “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who have sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom.” On the other side, there will be panels that depict homeland, family, patriot and sacrifice. A silhouette cut out will represent a missing loved one, as well.

A dedication ceremony for the Olathe monument has been scheduled for Sept. 25 — which is the weekend of the annual observance of Gold Star Mother’s Day on Sept. 27, according to the release — at Veterans Memorial Park. The dedication is open to the public, and details will be announced soon.

The Olathe Parks and Recreation Foundation will continue to accept donations to pay for final costs of the monument and its installation, as well as any other expenses. There will be 100 brick pavers at the monument site to represent various donations, ranging from $100 to $5,000. Donations can be made by calling (913) 971-8555.