By Samantha L. Quigley
WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2006 – Residents of Munster, Ind., will gather on Sept. 11 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York and Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon. "That day is one of the few days ... where the flag is at (half-staff) until sunset, so we do a sunset ceremony," Frank Darrington, post commander for the Munster Veterans of Foreign Wars, said of the Freedom Walk event planned for 7 p.m. that day.
America Supports You Freedom Walks will be held around the country to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 and to honor the nation's veterans, past and present. "We'll have a little speechifying," Darrington said. "We'll do some praying, and then we're going to have some entertainment."
A group of four women calling themselves "A String of Pearls" will provide the entertainment, Darrington said. The group's repertoire and harmonies are similar to those of the World War II-era Andrews Sisters. The event will take place at Community Veterans Memorial Park, a 6-and-a-half acre park in Munster. There is at least a mile of walking trails in the park, and Darrington said folks are free to come and go freely during the event.
"We're not going to say, 'OK, now's the time to start walking,'" he said. "We're trying to leave this thing really loose and open so people can do as they please while here." As they have during Munster's past Sept. 11 observances, folks can come early and walk the trail, taking in artists' interpretations of the two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Darrington said. There also will be time after the ceremony to see the park's sites.
"We have a very patriotic community," Darrington said. "(The Freedom Walk) is a way for the community to ... physical display (that it's) behind the effort to fight this war." Forty-two cities across the country have confirmed plans to host America Supports You Freedom Walks. America Supports You is a Defense Department effort to highlight grassroots and corporate support for U.S. military members and their families. DoD's America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site provides more information, including tips on organizing local events and a means to register them as part of the national observance.