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Marine Corps League Chaplain, Gerald Harris

Featured Article

The Story Behind the Gold Star Families Memorial

Honoring the family of Cooper Mount and those who have lost a loved one in military service

On a picturesque March morning, hundreds gathered to mark the arrival of a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in the heart of downtown St. George.

The ceremony to dedicate the memorial at Historic Town Square March 26, 2022, was not intended to erase the pain of Gold Star family members. Nothing could fill the hole in the heart of someone who lost a loved one through military service. Yet the memorial may help facilitate comfort, providing a place to grieve and remember.

“Consider this monument a sign of commitment and gratitude from our community to our Gold Star families,” said Mayor Michele Randall during the dedication ceremony. “It is a promise that we will always remember the price their loved ones paid and never ignore the heartbreak Gold Star families endure.”

The idea for the monument originated in 2020, after thousands of St. George residents lined city streets to pay tribute to Cooper Mount, a St. George resident and paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division who was killed while on a security patrol in northeastern Syria.

“I was amazed at how many people showed up,” remembers Bronwyn Mount, Cooper’s mother. “Driving through the cut from Bloomington to St. George, I saw two men standing on top of the cliff waving flags. And then it got more incredible from there as we drove up Main Street and there were hundreds of people there to support our boy.”

In 2020, only one Gold Star families monument existed in Utah—in North Ogden. Jennie Taylor, herself a Gold Star widow, is recognized as the “main driving force” behind that monument, according to the Utah National Guard, and she hoped it would serve as inspiration for other monuments throughout the state. Her late husband, Brent, served as North Ogden City mayor and as a member of the Utah National Guard. While serving as mayor, and as a military intelligence officer, he was deployed to Afghanistan and killed unexpectedly in 2018.

Jon Pike, the previous mayor of St. George, and Randall, a councilwoman at the time, followed Jennie’s lead and formed a fundraising committee in St. George. Donations arrived in quickly from a variety of sources, including businesses, nonprofit organizations and private individuals.

Soon, there was enough money to reserve a monument from the Woody Williams Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, and to break ground on the project. Although the supply chain crisis created a delay in the monument reaching St. George, it was worth the wait.

Stately situated west of the carousel and between the two grass lawns, the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument is an example of what can happen when a community rallies together to support the families of military veterans.

“I feel honored by everyone who has worked so hard to make it possible,” Bronwyn said. “I also love having it close. Cooper is buried in Parowan, and it’s not always easy to make it up there. But I drive past the memorial every day and stop often and think of him and other soldiers and families who have sacrificed.”

  • Gold Star families and supporters surround the new memorial at the dedication ceremony in St. George
  • Marine Corps League Chaplain, Gerald Harris
  • Interior view of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in downtown St George
  • Former mayor, Jon Pike, and current mayor, Michele Randall, greet attendees at the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument dedication