By Samantha L. Quigley
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 2006 – Residents of Crawfordsville, Ind., will gather to participate in an America Supports You Freedom Walk, joining an ever-growing number of Americans who will pay similar tribute to the victims of 9/11 and the nation's past and present veterans. Defense Department officials said this morning that so far, 75 communities in 36 states have registered similar events on the department's Freedom Walk Web site.
"We have gotten the message out to the local churches, so they're going to put the (announcement) in the church bulletins for us," said Jessica Williams, president of Indiana's third chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America. The message is also getting out via traditional media outlets, such as the local newspaper, she said. She added that several state Veterans Affairs officials also have committed to the walk.
Blue Star Mothers of America is a nonprofit organization of mothers who currently have, or have had, children serving in the military, according to the organization's Web site. The organization also is a member of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which spotlights ways the American people and the nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers.
Activities like the Crawfordsville Freedom Walk are important because they help acknowledge the impact the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had on every U.S. resident, Williams said.
"People have changed their careers because of this. They were starting out to be an architect and they ended up going into law enforcement," she said. "A group of our boys stepped up (and) now they're in the military because of what happened on 9/11."
The local events parallel the Washington, D.C., Freedom Walk scheduled for Sept. 10 and sponsored by the Defense Department's America Supports You program.
In Crawfordsville, the walk will begin with opening ceremonies that include a welcome, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the national anthem. At the conclusion of the walk, which covers about a half-mile of downtown sidewalks, a Tower Tribute audio-visual program will be presented. The evening will conclude with local talent providing a patriotic program, Williams said.
"(Freedom Walks) allow various people to come together under the Freedom Walk for no purpose other than to show support," she said. "Yes, we may be going on with our lives, but there's a part of us that will always be affected."
Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walk observances in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.