By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2006 – A weekend of events in Sacramento, Calif., saluting America's military veterans and current servicemembers will culminate in a candlelit walk on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Sacramento's Freedom Walk, planned in conjunction with similar events around the country to remember those who lost their lives on Sept. 11 and to honor America's past and present military veterans, will begin at 9:30 p.m., after a two-and-a-half hour concert and military tribute in the William Land Park and Amphitheater.
"We expect to have a rousing program that'll culminate a couple of days of wonderful events around the Sacramento Valley," said Bill Jenest, a spokesman for the Sacramento chapter of Operation Homefront, the nonprofit group sponsoring the walk. The weekend leading up to the walk is dubbed "Patriots Memorial Weekend" and is sponsored by Operation Homefront and other affiliated regional groups. The concert on Sept. 11 will include performances from two local bands -- one made up entirely of veterans -- and a classical guitarist, Jenest said. Operation Homefront is also in final talks with a nationally recognized Christian singer who may appear at the concert, he said.
"The entertainment's 'down-home,' but we're just all folks here anyway," he said. "The content's going to be in the people who come up to the microphone and say what they have to say." The military tribute will be presented by a retired Marine captain and a group commander from nearby Travis Air Force Base; both are board members of the Operation Homefront Sacramento chapter, Jenest said.
The pre-registration Web site for the walk was just launched, Jenest said, and the final number of participants will largely depend on publicity. The venue can hold up to 7,000 people, he said. Participants in Sacramento will walk around a lake in the park, Jenest said. If more people show up than expected, the route may be changed to also go around a second, larger lake next to the first one, he added.
Operation Homefront has extended an invitation to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to speak at the concert and has received lots of support from the Sacramento City Council in planning the walk, Jenest said. Sacramento has seen much debate about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so walk organizers hope this can be a healing event for the community, he said. "I think, at the end of the day, we all recognize that this is a tragedy that we can't forget and that the men and women serving our country are the bastion of what separates us from total anarchy and chaos in the world," he said.
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. 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. 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. Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walk observances in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.