By Samantha L. Quigley
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – A small community in Iowa is among 86 cities and towns in 39 states planning Freedom Walks to honor those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, as well as the nation's veterans, past and present. The American Legion chapter in Milo, Iowa, a town of about 1,000, is sponsoring its Freedom Walk Sept. 11 at 7 p.m.
The American Legion 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. Beginning in downtown Milo, the walk will cover four blocks and will end at City Park, where participants will reflect and pray, Ron Hensel, the walk's organizer and a member of Milo's American Legion post, said.
"We'll have a minister on hand to give a prayer," he said. "There'll be time for speakers if anyone cares to speak." Hensel said all veterans, children from the area schools, and fire department and local law enforcement officers have been invited to participate in the walk. He said he's hoping for 100 to 200 Milo residents to participate.
"(It's) just to let the community know that there's patriotism still alive and well in the Midwest," Hensel said, adding that everyone walking will be handed a small American flag. "I'm a veteran from the Vietnam era, and I feel that it's important for veterans to be recognized and given their just due."
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. The local events around the country parallel the Washington, D.C., Freedom Walk, scheduled Sept. 10 and sponsored by the Defense Department's America Supports You program.
The Pentagon sponsored the first America Supports You Freedom Walk in the Washington, D.C., area last year. The fact that so many cities across the country are holding Freedom Walks makes Hensel proud, he said. "I think that we have a great country, and I think people believe in the country, believe in our freedom," he Said.
Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walk observances in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.