Sun over water shining on shiny black granite, the stately gray Yorktown in the background — it may be one of the country’s more scenic locations for a monument to families who have lost loved ones in wars.
Several hundred people, most of them relatives of fallen warriors since World War I, are expected to gather at Patriots Point on Saturday morning for the dedication of the South Carolina Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
It makes for "a beautiful photograph, I tell you," says Peter Stonefield, executive director of the group behind it.
"It’s inspiring," he said.
Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams, who fought with the Marines Corps at Iwo Jima, picked out the spot near the Mount Pleasant waterfront two years ago. He’s leader of a group that’s installing the monuments around the country. This will be the 31st.
A ground-breaking ceremony kicked off the fund-raising effort in June 2016. It didn’t take long for Stonefield, president of an international aerospace company, to raise the $65,000 that was needed.
New Future Granite in Aiken made the monument. The sun shines through a cutout of a soldier based on Williams' silhouette. Four panels on the back celebrate homeland, family, patriotism and sacrifice.
The memorial is on land that developer Michael Bennett is leasing from the state for a resort hotel complex. The monument sat in a warehouse for a year and a half, along with six granite benches that were supposed to go near it, while the Patriots Point Development Authority worked out the details of the lease with Bennett and the state Fiscal Accountability Authority.
"That was the biggest challenge," Stonefield said.
Gulfstream Construction of Mount Pleasant donated the equipment and time to install it. Pouring the foundation and lining up the connections took about a week.
It turned out the ground was too soft to handle the 600-pound benches without driving pilings. Stonefield hopes they can be installed between the monument and the Yorktown or the Medal of Honor Museum that’s planned nearby.
Williams, who turned 94 in October, is scheduled to give the keynote address Saturday. The ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m. Parking is free.