By Gerry J. Gilmore
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2006 – Oklahoma City volunteers are preparing for the municipality's first Freedom Walk, slated to run on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, a local organizer said today. Organizers expect as many as 10,000 people to participate in the walk, logistics coordinator Michael Carnuccio said from his office in a telephone interview with American Forces Press Service.
Oklahoma City's Freedom Walk will wend more than a mile through downtown, he said. Initial coordination with Oklahoma City officials, potential sponsors, and volunteers began in mid-July, Carnuccio said. Everyone contacted "was overwhelmingly supportive and excited," he said.
Sponsored by the Defense Department's "American Supports You" program, similar Freedom Walks are scheduled around the country to remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 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. Last year, the Pentagon sponsored the first America Supports You Freedom Walk in the Washington, D.C., area. Carnuccio said walk participants are to assemble at the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, where they'll begin the 1.17-mile-trek at 6 p.m. There's no fee to participate in the walk, Carnuccio said, noting participants will receive free commemorative T-shirts.
Registration isn't mandatory, he said, but people are encouraged to register online at www.freedomwalkokc.com, which is linked to DoD's America Supports You site. Carnuccio said Oklahoma City-area residents may sign up for the walk right up to the time of the event. Oklahoma City is no stranger to terrorism, Carnuccio pointed out. The city was assaulted on April 19, 1995, when terrorist Timothy McVeigh set off explosives that half-destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. The Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist act committed within the borders of the United States until the 9/11 attacks that killed some 3,000 people. In addition to honoring those who died during 9/11, Oklahoma City's Freedom Walk will also serve as a thank you to America's service men and women "who make the ultimate sacrifice for us," Carnuccio said.