Lauren Berkson’s father, Army Capt. Joseph M. Berkson, was killed in Vietnam on May 2, 1972 at age 25. She was 10 months old.
On Wednesday, the Riviera Beach woman, representing Palm Beach County Gold Star Families, asked the Town Council for permission to erect a marker in Palm Beach recognizing families whose members made the ultimate sacrifice.
"I want people to know we live in the best country in the world, and that freedom isn’t free," Berkson said.
There would be no names on the marker, which would read: "A tribute to the Gold Star Families whose loved ones paid the ultimate price defending the United States of America."
Palm Beach is one of 16 county municipalities where Berkson hopes to see Gold Star memorials to give the families and other citizens a place to reflect or heal.
She is asking to erect a bronze marker, 16 inches by 12 inches, on the left wall at Memorial Park by Town Hall. If the town approves it in time, she wants the marker in place for a dedication ceremony immediately before the Nov. 12 council meeting, which will be the day after Veterans Day.
Mayor Gail Coniglio and council members welcomed the proposal.
But she told Berkson the proposal will require Landmarks Preservation Commission review before coming back to the council for final approval. The park is a town landmark.
"Many in our community have served," Coniglio said. "I am hopeful this community will tip our hats and show our appreciation."
Council President Danielle Moore asked town staff to help "fast track" the process so it would be possible to meet the Nov. 12 dedication goal. The application could be on the Landmarks Board meeting agenda as early as next month, Public Works Director Paul Brazil said.
Friends of Veterans Inc. adopted Palm Beach County Gold Star Families to help promote awareness by establishing multiple markers in the county.
In December, West Palm Beach city commissioners approved a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument at Trinity Park on Flagler Drive. The dedication date is Sept. 25.
In deciding where to place memorials, Berkson said the group chose cities or towns that have a park or an event commemorating Veterans Day or Memorial Day.
Councilwoman Margaret Zeidman thanked Berkson for her effort. "I’m an absolute proponent of what you’re trying to do," Zeidman said.