A resolution recognizing the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in Point Lookout as Missouri’s “Official Gold Star Families Memorial Monument” stalled this week in the Missouri House, over concerns about the term “official.”
State Rep. Jeff Justus, R-Branson, the resolution sponsor, says the bill highlights the commitment that southwest Missouri’s College of the Ozarks has to veterans.
“And one of the reasons that it would be good to be in our area is that the thousands of veterans and the people and the tourists that come to our area that would be able to see it, you’d probably give it the most exposure of any other memorial in the state,” Justus says.
Bill supporters say Branson is a tourist destination and that many tourists would be able to see Missouri’s commitment to veterans.
Justus’ resolution was approved in February by the House Veterans Committee by an 11-2 vote, and no one testified against it during the committee hearing.
However, opposition surfaced during Monday evening’s House floor discussion, and included lawmakers from both parties. Opposition centers around the word “official.”
State Rep. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis County, who serves on the House Veterans Committee, spoke against the resolution on the House floor, telling colleagues there’s a Gold Star memorial at Jefferson Barracks Park near St. Louis.
“I think to name any type of memorial the official memorial of the Gold Star Families possibly slights those others that put their time and effort into any other memorial that’s across the state,” says Beck.
Beck also notes there’s a Gold Star memorial in Jefferson City, not far from the Capitol.
State Rep. Bob Burns, D-Affton, also objects to the term “official.” Burns notes the Gold Star memorial monument at Jefferson Barracks park is located in his district.
One of Justus’ GOP colleagues also spoke against the bill, during floor debate.
State Rep. Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill, told Representative Beck he agreed with his opposition to the bill. Roden tells House colleagues his Jefferson County district includes mothers who’ve lost sons in Iraq, who have worked to get a monument at Jefferson Barracks Park.
“To know those mothers that have made sure that every single of those people in St. Louis County at Jefferson Barracks, especially at a very fitting place in Jefferson Barracks on those hollowed ground,” Roden says.
Justus’ resolution is backed by State Rep. Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, who chairs the House Veterans Committee. Chairman Basye tells House colleagues the intent of House Concurrent Resolution 9 is not to discredit any other Gold Star monuments in Missouri.
Basye says Branson does a great job for veterans, adding that they have a “wonderful veterans museum down in that area.”
Justus’ resolution has been laid over.