Benches at Marietta’s Gold Star Park honor area heroes
MARIETTA — Along with the brisk autumn air, people visiting Gold Star Park Friday morning were greeted with the sounds of construction and a group of patriotic citizens gathered around the Gold Star Monument.
Workers from Kirby Monuments were installing 12 monument benches that honored lost loved ones and living veterans who have served the country. Members of the Marine Corps League Detachment 1436 and family and friends who sponsored the benches were there to watch them being erected.
Gold Star Park is the former Lookout Park on Harmar Hill. It was renamed after an initiative by the Marine Corps League Detachment 1436 and the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation last fall.
Marietta Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp said he was initially concerned about getting enough people to sponsor the benches.
“I didn’t think we would get four benches sponsored. We ended up getting nine and I had to turn people away,” he said.
Two of the people attending were there to honor Pfc. Jack E. McKenna who was killed in action on Oct. 1, 1944 in the European theater. Richard McKenna and Sally Voll are the siblings of the fallen hero and said they wanted to do more to remember him. So with help from Hupp they sponsored a bench in their brother’s name.
“He hasn’t gotten hardly any recognition,” said McKenna. “His war records were destroyed in a fire in St. Louis. (The bench) is a good way to honor him.”
“I was very little,” said Voll. “But I can remember his gold star flag hanging in the window and our mother being very sad.”
Judy Carpenter was there with her daughter Stephanie Carpenter to see the construction of the bench built in tribute of her late husband, Steven J. Carpenter.
“I wanted this honor for my husband,” Judy said. “The mayor’s stepson got me in contact with Jonathan Hupp about the project. I talked to the kids and we decided to do it.”
Judy said she was amazed at the humility her husband showed about being a veteran of the Marine Corps who served during the Vietnam War.
“He spent most of the war on water doing two Mediterranean tours. He didn’t get to Vietnam until the last year of the war. He would hear stories about what those guys went through and thought they were the real veterans,” she said.
Even with the addition of the benches to the Gold Star Memorial, Hupp said the park isn’t close to being done.
“We want to build a 7-foot concrete walkway all the way around the park,” he said.
When completed, the walkway will also have more memorial benches along it and information points that will teach visitors the history of veterans from the area, Hupp said.
Fundraising for the estimated $105,000 cost of creating the walkway is currently underway. Donations can be made to the Gold Star Park pathway by contacting the Marietta Community Foundation or the city of Marietta through their websites mcfohio.org and mariettaoh.net.