By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2006 – The first city to join the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program is preparing to host a Freedom Walk on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. "The walk itself is not what we're focusing on, as much as just getting people out to participate," Enid, Okla., Mayor Ernie Currier said during a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service. Enid became an America Supports You partner in March 2005.
Enid will host its Freedom Walk on Sept. 11 at a downtown ballpark, Currier said. Participants will walk inside the stadium along a marked route starting at 6 p.m. Sponsored by America Supports You, similar Freedom Walks are scheduled around the country to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 and to honor America's military veterans, past and present. America Supports You spotlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers.
The Pentagon sponsored the first America Supports You Freedom Walk, in the Washington, D.C., area, in 2005. Enid, with a population of 47,000, is an intensely patriotic community located about 70 miles north of Oklahoma City, Currier said. The city is home to nearby Vance Air Force Base. He noted that Enid resident Army Staff Sgt. Clint J. Storey was killed 10 days ago in Iraq.
"In a community of only 47,000, you can see that everyone's concentric circle touches one another," the mayor said. He said he believes Storey is the first servicemember from Enid to die during the global war on terrorism. The mayor said it seems a natural fit for Enid to host a Freedom Walk, since the collective community is an advocate of all things military, as well as a supporter of the war on global terrorism.
"Enid is an extremely military-friendly community," he said. "We have the military base here, but our population seems to understand the need for the military action that's going on and supports it, I think, overwhelmingly." Information on this year's Freedom Walks and tips for organizing local observances are available at the Defense Department's Freedom Walk Web site.