By Donna Miles
WASHINGTON, Sep. 1, 2006 – Fort Riley, Kan., an Army base that's been a big player in the war on terror, will commemorate the terrorist attacks that gave rise to it during a Freedom Walk Sept. 11, the fifth anniversary of those attacks. More than 500 students at the post's Ware Elementary School, 99 percent of them military children, and 85 staff members will participate in Freedom Walk, according to Pat Olmstead, the event organizer and family support monitor at the school. The participants will assemble for the 2 p.m. walk wearing red, white and blue clothing and carrying large American flags.
Family members, post employees and local residents are invited to join or stand along the route. Leading the procession will be Fort Riley military police cars, followed by a Junior ROTC color guard and drum line from nearby Junction City High School, Olmstead said. The Fort Riley fire department will follow with their fire engine.
Olmstead said she's hopeful the event will become an annual event at Fort Riley, and part of a national tradition of Freedom Walks. The tradition will offer participants an opportunity to reflect on the lives lost on Sept. 11, to renew their commitment to freedom and U.S. values and to honor veterans past and present, she said. At Fort Riley, Olmstead said she expects the Freedom Walk to emphasize a celebration of freedoms that many of the young children's parents are helping protect. Many have watched their parents go off on deployments in Iraq or Afghanistan one, two, even three times, and understand more than most children their ages that freedom isn't free, she said.
Some day the children, many too young to remember the events of Sept. 11, will come to understand what happened to the United States that day and why their parents have been so important in fighting terror, she said. "Some day they are going to realize the price that was paid for their freedom." Local communities across the United States are holding Freedom Walks similar to Fort Riley's to remember the victims of 9/11 and to honor the nation's veterans, past and present. These 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.
America Supports You showcases ways the American people and nation's corporate sector support U.S. servicemembers. For more information about organizing a Freedom Walk observance or participating in those already planned, visit the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.