TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A monument honoring the families of more than 6,500 Kansas heroes was unveiled at the state’s capitol on Friday.

The permanent dedication to Kansas Gold Star Families is located at the “Veteran’s Walk” on statehouse grounds, which hosts other dedications for Kansas veterans. A Gold Star Family is the immediate family of a fallen service member who died while serving in a time of conflict.

At a dedication ceremony on Friday, Arthur DeGroat, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, spoke about the importance of honoring the families of those that lost their lives in battle.

“No service member from the State of Kansas has ever served alone, as their family members have always served alongside those who went into harm’s way,” DeGroat said.

Former longtime U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, who served in the Marine Corps, also received a plaque honoring his service to his country in the military and in office. Roberts emphasized the sacrifices that families make, as their loved ones risk their lives to serve their country.

“I still carry with me the core values of honor, courage, and commitment, and the moral obligation to never forget our fallen or their families,” Roberts said.

Former Kansas U.S. Senator Pat Roberts speaks at a Plaque Unveiling Ceremony at Kansas Statehouse. In his speech, Roberts said, “There are no self-made men and women in public office. It’s your friends who make you what you are.” Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (KSNT/ Rebekah Chung)

Roberts served in the Marine Corps from 1958-1962 before entering public office. He is one of the longest-serving Kansas politicians, after serving more than a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives and more than 20 years in the U.S. Senate.