Trio of ribbon cuttings planned this week

World War II Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, a Marine corporal who saved countless American lives with his flamethrower in the Battle of Iwo Jima, will be the speaker at the dedication this week of the Gulf Coast Gold Star Families Memorial Monument on Saturday at Guice Veterans Memorial Park in Biloxi.

The dedication of the monument is one of three significant ribbon-cutting ceremonies taking place this week: On Thursday at 1 p.m., the city and Harrison County will dedicate the pedestrian overpass at U.S. 90 north of the small craft harbor, and on Friday at 10 a.m., the city will cut a ribbon on its newest fire station, Station No. 10, on old Highway 67, just east of Cedar Lake Road. All events are open to the public.

“These are three significant events, for sure,” said Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich, “but anytime you have a World War II hero in your midst, it’s a very special occasion.”

Williams, who turned 96 last month, will speak during the public ceremony Saturday at 1 p.m. at Guice Park, which is at 679 Beach Blvd.

The Gold Star Memorial honors the families who lost a member in military service. The memorial is a joint effort between the city, Keesler Federal Credit Union, the Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation and Gold Star Families. The city provided the location and construction upgrades, and Biloxi-based Keesler Federal Credit Union acquired the monument and is leading the dedication project.

The black granite monument features a carved-out silhouette of a saluting military member and will be located near the mast of the U.S.S. Biloxi, the Purple Heart Memorial, and a World War I monument.

“Keesler Federal wanted to be involved in this project as soon as we first heard about it,” said James Hollingsworth, Keesler Federal Board Chairman. “The Gold Star Monument will be a permanent memorial to the families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The pain does not go away, and neither should our appreciation of their personal sacrifices.”

The origin of the Gold Star dates back to World War I. Families of U.S. soldiers flew flags with a blue star for each family member serving in the military. The blue star changed to a gold star upon death in battle. Congress in 1947 authorized the military to award a Gold Star lapel pin to family members of those killed in action.

In 2010, the Hershel Woody Williams Congressional Medal of Honor Education Foundation, Inc. was established. The foundation, the vision of Medal of Honor Recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams, encourages the construction of Gold Star Families Memorials across the country. It has been active in helping establish the one in Biloxi.

Overpass ceremony: The new pedestrian overpass, a $2.4 million endeavor funded by Harrison County residents, will link two hotels, the Hilton Garden Inn and yet-to-open Legends, with the areas south of U.S. 90: the Biloxi waterfront, Guice Park, the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The ceremony is Thursday at 1 p.m. in Guice Park, south of U.S. 90.

Fire station dedication: The $2 million Station 10, on old Highway 67 just east of Cedar Lake Road, is expected to dramatically decrease response times in the East Woolmarket area. The station will be staffed 24 hours a day, typically with four firefighters.
Gallery: The Gold Star Families Memorial
See the program for the ceremony
Read more about WW2 hero Woody Williams
Your invitation to Station 10 ceremony
Gallery: See the harbor pedestrian overpasss

News & notes: Weekly report, council meeting replay

The week that was: Last week, the Fire Department answered 137 calls for service, including 89 medical emergencies and five fires; the Police Department handled 1,950 calls for service; the Community Development Department issued 53 building permits with a construction valuation of more than $475,000; and the Engineering Department continued progress on projects throughout the city.  To see the detailed reports covering last week, click here

City Council: The Biloxi City Council held its last scheduled meeting of the month this afternoon at Biloxi City Hall. The video replay of the meeting is available now on the city’s YouTube channel, and council meetings also air daily on BTV at 9:30 a.m., 9:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. To see the complete 33-minute video of the meeting today, click here.