By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — A recent addition was made to the Kosciusko County War Memorial to honor local Gold Star families, who were recognized Tuesday morning, Oct. 27, during a dedication ceremony.
The memorial is located on the grounds of the Kosciusko County Courthouse, at the corner of Center and Lake streets.
Following the posting of the colors by American Legion Post 49 and Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW Post 1126, Kosciusko County Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Rock sang the National Anthem.
County Commissioner Vice-President Bob Conley led with introductions and opening statements. Conley brought a picture of his uncle, Elbert, who was killed in action.
The picture hangs in Conley’s barbershop.
“On a daily basis I thank God for him for setting the example that he set and in remembrance of all our young people who gave their lives in battle,” Conley said.
Ken Locke, member of the Honor & Remember Committee, also spoke at the ceremony.
Locke said the tradition of banners with blue stars being displayed in windows was started during World War I. The blue star represented a service member in active duty.
Gold Star families are immediate relatives of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have been killed in combat or in support of military activities.
“There were times when you would walk by a house and you would see a gold star in the window,” Locke said. “And everyone knew in the community the sacrifice that had been given from that house, from that home, that family, for the freedoms that we take for granted sometimes.”
“It’s a huge price that we ask people to give for the freedoms that we have. It’s sad to see sometimes how it’s desecrated in this day and age sometimes. It’s sad how people act sometimes,” Locke said. “They need to at least have respect for those who have given for the freedoms we have. You can protest, you can do all kinds of other things but don’t dishonor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”
Locke said there has always been a sense of wanting to recognize gold star families locally. A few years ago, the words “Freedom Isn’t Free” were added to the back of the war memorial.
Recently, Locke said they got the ball rolling to get the rest of the etching added, all paid for through private donations.
Kosciusko Honor & Remember, in cooperation with the Kosciusko County Commissioners, have added the following wording: ”KOSCIUSKO COUNTY EXPRESSES ETERNAL GRATITUDE TO GOLD STAR FAMILIES WHOSE LOVED ONE PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE DEFENDING THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. THEIR SACRIFICE WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.”
“We must never forget that freedom comes with a price,” Locke said. “We must never forget that each generation’s responsibility is to maintain that freedom. It doesn’t come free.”