Gov. Justice, Woody Williams unveil new sign dedicating Gold Star Families Memorial Highway

9/30/2020

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BECKLEY, WV – Today, Gov. Jim Justice joined Hershel “Woody” Williams for a ceremony to unveil a new highway sign, dedicating a portion of the West Virginia Turnpike as the “Gold Star Families Memorial Highway.”

“I’ve said over and over that we owe everything we have to all of our great Veterans, especially our Gold Star servicemen and women and their families,” Gov. Justice said. “They have paid a price for us to have everything we have and they always ask for so little, even though they’ve given so much.”
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The Gold Star Families Memorial Highway will run from the I-77/I-64 split in Beckley to the Chuck Yeager Bridge in the Kanawha City area of Charleston. A sign designating the roadway will be installed at each end of the highway.

This stretch of highway will forever honor the memory of West Virginia’s Gold Star servicemen and women – those who paid the ultimate price by giving their life in defense of America – while also honoring the families of the fallen and the challenges they continue to face in the absence of their loved ones.
“It’s absolutely my honor to be able to do things like the recognition that we’re doing today for this beautiful 54 miles of highway,” Gov. Justice said. “And it’s my hope that this dedication will make sure that those who come after us, for years and years, will never forget the sacrifice of our greatest heroes.”

The concept of memorializing the highway in honor of West Virginia’s Gold Star service members and families came from American war hero Woody Williams, a Medal of Honor recipient and West Virginia native. His foundation – the Hershel Woody Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation – honors Gold Star children, families, and relatives who have sacrificed a loved one in the service of their country.

“There are going to be untold numbers of individuals that are going to see this sign and perhaps realize for the first time there is a group of people who sacrificed one of their own for all of us,” Williams said.
After Williams and his foundation reached out to the Governor’s Office with the idea, Gov. Justice directed the Division of Highways to officially name the Gold Star Families Memorial Highway.

Deputy Secretary and Deputy Commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Highways executed the Governor's directive and officially entered the naming order.

The exact location of the newly named highway is I-77, beginning at Milepost 39.78, being its junction with Interstate 64 and running north through Raleigh, Fayette, and Kanawha Counties to roughly Milepost 93.00, covering 53.22 miles of the West Virginia Turnpike.

“What this wonderful man, Woody Williams, has done for the state of West Virginia and for each and every one of us is unparalleled,” Gov. Justice said. “For me to be all-in on this is nothing, because it’s what we ought to do.”
The Gold Star first made an appearance during World War I by being placed over a service flag’s blue star when a service member was killed in combat. That Gold Star honors the service members and their families for their sacrifice.

Following the highway dedication, Gov. Justice surprised Williams – who is set to celebrate his 97th birthday on Friday – with a birthday cake, leading the crowd in a spirited rendition of the “Happy Birthday” song.

Contact Information

Jordan Damron, jordan.l.damron@wv.gov

Contact

Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

Governor's Mansion:
304.558.3588

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