Veterans Memorial Gold Star Healing and Peace Garden begins ground installation the week of December 19 in a big Thank you for your service Gift to all Veterans especially those returning heroes from the Middle East. The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him. GK Chesterton When my son, SPC Martin Kondor, was killed by an IED In Iraq in 2004, I searched by heart for a fitting tribute to a young life dedicated to serving America and the world. Among his personal effects were notebooks showing that he was internalizing the core values as taught in all branches of the US Military: Courage, Duty and Honor, Integrity, Fidelity, Valor and Honor.

It was clear that he wanted to be the best representative of America that he could be. So I began to translate those virtues into something that would be “readable” by anyone, anytime, anywhere- regardless of culture or language. Two thoughts came to mind, music and color. Music is ethereal, once the notes clear the air they are no more but I wanted something more lasting. So the idea of color expressed in a living way made sense and the idea of a memorial garden began to take shape.

In a circle for unity, The Gold Star Garden is an expression of unity. Gold Star by the way refers to the family of a loved one who dies in military service to the United States. I became an American Gold Star Mother. The next inside layer is the ring of Core Value Rooms. Visitors are encouraged to take the Walk of the Intrepid through each room and consider the virtue expressed there. Red is for Courage so along the Walk we ask ourselves,” What is Courage, who do I know that acts with Courage, When am I courageous?”

And so forth through the rooms. By taking this pathway the visitor slows down and sets their intention on the best parts of our personalities. They become the service person when they walk the Walk of the Intrepid. No one wants to travel in circles all the time, so each room is connected to the center by the Star Walk where the Fountain of Honor issues renewal and refreshment.

Find on the arms of the Star Walk, the Wall of Honor, where all the Pennsylvania Fallen in the war on terror will be inscribed on Pennsylvania Granite.

It is my hope that the Gold Star Garden will serve as a tool to help ease any emotional trauma. It is a place where family members and vets can drop their burdens and let the earth transmute them into beautiful living plants. The root concept of Healing is to Make Whole. So by physically walking the walk, dropping the burdens, meditating on those torn or shattered parts , traveling into the center and finding refreshment, this process may help to Make visitors whole again or start them on their healing path.

Since 2007, a dedicated group of individuals have donated thousands of hours of in-kind expertise to create the Veterans Memorial Gold Star Healing & Peace Garden. Groundbreaking was held on a cold, blustery day in November, 2009. No one gets a salary for the thousands of hours of work involved. We incorporated into a non profit 501 (c)3 and are poised to begin construction.

Dedication is June 9, 2012 Memorial Park in York, Pennsylvaniathanks to the many generous people who spend thousands of hours and their own dollars to help make it possible. We have not yet reached our fund raising goal of $629,000. But we do have many in kind contributors and enough cash to get things started. Please join us for the dedication the Saturday before Flag Day, June 9 at 10 AM.