Senator Marshall Hosts Kansas Gold Star Families on Memorial Day Weekend for First Division Monument Ceremony

Washington, D.C. – This Memorial Day weekend, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. hosted Kansas Gold Star families honoring Fort Riley soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives to protect our American freedoms. 

For seven years, Senator Marshall has worked tirelessly to ensure that our fallen Big Red One Soldiers are rightfully honored at the First Division Infantry Monument located in Washington, D.C., outside of the White House. In order to get each fallen soldier’s name added it takes an act of Congress. That’s why Senator Marshall introduced, then as a Congressman, the First Act. This legislation, passed in 2021, ensured that the more than 631 names of First Infantry Division soldiers who were killed in action during Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn are added to the monument outside of the White House. 

Now, this Memorial Day weekend Senator Marshall came together with Kansas Gold Star families, the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, the Fort Riley Army Community Services, Army Survivor Outreach Services, Fort Riley Commanding General, and Fort Riley Command Sergeant Major, Society of the 1ID for the unveiling of these soldiers names being added to this historic monument. 

Senator Marshall also took the families on a private tour of the nation’s capital on Saturday night and joined them in the ceremony and events honoring these soldiers throughout the holiday weekend.

“Nothing will ever be enough to honor and thank these men and women for their service to our nation and their sacrifice. We are honored to host our Kansas Gold Star families in our nation’s capital this Memorial Day,” Senator Marshall said. “With this ceremony at the First Division Monument, our Kansas heroes will be memorialized and honored forever. This day, unveiling the name of these fallen Kansas soldiers has been years in the making. I am honored to be a part of this ceremony and ensure our fallen soldiers are engraved and recognized at this monument forever.” 

“This trip is such a great gift.  It’s an amazing thing that all of these people and businesses came together to send us to see our heroes’ names forever immortalized on a monument,” Megan and Chris Johnson, family of PFC William Johnson’s family, said. “No words are thanks enough.”

“The Gold Star is a symbol of our Nation’s Fallen Service Members and the families who are still here. We can’t change what has happened but we support one another, and we continue to be a part of the Military Community,” Randy Frank, SGT Kevin Gilbertson’s family member, said. “There is nothing we can do to stop the pain, but there is something we can do every day: Honor them! When you look at the news, remember that freedom of the press is because of them, remember that freedom of speech is because of them, and that whether you believe in God or any other Deity or not at all, remember freedom of religion is because of them. But for the families of the fallen – our GOLD STAR families – EVERY DAY is Memorial Day.”

“On behalf of my family and all Gold Star families, I am proud to be a part of this memorial dedication; it is a reminder to our country the sacrifices that my soldier SPC Josph Lister and all fallen soldiers have made,” Sierra Herring, wife of SPC Josph Lister said. “Their families and active service members give so much so that we as a nation can live in peace and freedom.”

“Coming to DC feels unreal, especially coming in to be met with such hospitality and to have access to so many different things and all the wonderful things they planned for us. But the biggest thing is that we’re all immigrants, and to be able to freely come to DC, I think that’s the American dream,” Fatima Jaghoori, wife of Soldier Zac Hargrove said. “To be able to come here in honor of Zac and to see how much all of the people involved in it, how much they really care about everybody that has given their life in war and throughout their services, is beautiful.”

“Senator Marshall and his Military affairs representative approached me about this project. I knew this was a perfect project for the Armed Forces Community Foundation. Through AFCF and the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, we were able to raise enough to fund a complete trip to DC for the 1ID Monument Ceremony. Through our combined partnership, we funded 12 families for this trip to DC.” Christine Benne, Greater Manhattan Community Foundation Military Affairs Coordinator, said. “This is what Memorial Day is about. Honoring those families who gave all. Senator Marshall and his office, the GMCF, accomplished that by paying it forward to these families with this trip.”

“While we acknowledge that no tribute can truly capture our gratitude for the sacrifices made by their loved ones, it is a privilege to honor our Gold Star families. Hosted by the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Commission and Military Affairs Council, this dinner is a humble gesture of thanks,” Israel Waddell, Director of Military Affairs in Junction City, said. “Their loved ones’ ultimate sacrifice is the bedrock of our freedom, and we are forever grateful for their heroism and the family’s enduring strength.”

For a full press kit with B-roll from the event, photos at the memorial dedication, and the Capitol tour, click HERE