HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument was revealed in May of last year at Camp Shelby in Forrest County. For Leonard Scardino, it has become a place of solace since he lost his son, who was killed in the line of duty while serving in the National Guard.
“This monument is everything for me because of my son," Scardino said. “My son joined the National Guard, 2nd Lieutenant Anthony Scardino, with the 220 Special Forces group out of Jackson.”
Scardino and his son were best friends.
“When he died, part of me died, but this monument brings that gap from my son to me anytime I want to come out here because he gave his life for freedom and freedom is not free,” said Scardino.
The Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Camp Shelby was the first of its kind in the state of Mississippi, and now there’s a push to erect another one on the Gulf Coast.
“When I heard that they had plans for other parts of the state to have one, one of the ones they wanted to put was further south on the Gulf Coast, and so I volunteered to spearhead the lead,” said John Pace with Papa John’s Pizza.
Papa John’s Pizza is helping raise funds to build another monument.
Pace said since hearing about how important the monuments are for families of fallen members of the U.S. Military, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to help.
For Scardino, it would be a dream come true.
“It means a tremendous amount," said Scardino. “We want them all over the state of Mississippi, but we want to have one on the coast for people on the coast to be able to take a Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon and take the time to be able to go out there and also do the same thing I do and sit and reflect on it.”
“He told me one time nobody wants to go to war. Some of us are willing because we’re not scared of what’s in front of us, we’re proud of what’s behind us,” Scardino added.