May. 25, 2023
HARRISBURG – It is time for the Pennsylvania Capitol to erect a memorial recognizing the sacrifices of Gold Star Families who have lost a loved one in military service, according to Rep. Joe Kerwin (R-Dauphin).
“A memorial for Gold Star Families on our state Capitol grounds would give these families a place to gather while praying, remembering, consoling, healing and honoring. A memorial here would not only be a physical place for reflection, but also a permanent reminder of the sacrifices made by our heroic military men and women as well as the grief that is endured by their families day in and day out,” Kerwin said at a press conference today.
Flanked by Gold Star Families who continue to mourn the loss of their service member during a time of conflict, Kerwin articulated why the Legislature needs to quickly pass House Bill 71, his legislation to bring a memorial to the Capitol Complex. The bill has bipartisan support and the backing of foundations that have pledged to pay for the memorial without tax dollars.
Suzanne Sheaffer’s son, Billy, suffered cardiac arrest and died in 2013 while serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. The Dauphin County mother started networking with other grieving families.
“A memorial here would recognize not only the sacrifices of those who dedicate themselves to military service, but also the sacrifices of their families and friends who support and love them. The profound loss affects a military unit, a family, a community and beyond,” Sheaffer said.
Kerwin, who has served for the past decade in the Army National Guard, started advocating for the memorial early in his tenure in the House of Representatives. He has made the memorial his No. 1 priority for the 2023-24 Legislative Session.
“Really, creating this monument is a no-brainer and something that should have happened long ago. Other states have made this happen, and Pennsylvania needs to step up,” Kerwin said. “We’re entering a Memorial Day weekend without a tribute to these esteemed families. Let’s ensure that we have this memorial in place a year from now.”
Kerwin encourages that Pennsylvanians supportive of the measure contact the offices of the state representative and senator serving their community.
Representative Joe Kerwin
125th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch