A traveling photo memorial called "Remembering Our Fallen" made its way to Fredericktown during the Azalea Festival May 4-6.
Featuring the Missouri soldiers who have died in the War on Terror, the memorial was more than just the names of the 156 Missourians. It showed who they were through photos and personal notes thanking them.
Sponsored by New Era Bank, Dockins Broadcast Group and Green's Flea Market, this event was free for the public to experience, at the Sonderman building on the court square.
The traveling exhibit is a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice each of these soldiers made while they wore the United States uniforms in a war zone.
As guests walked in, a somber feeling came over them as they read the notes with messages such as "I love you and miss you" and as they looked at the faces of some as young as 18. The room remained silent as the empty boots sat by the American Flag, many leaving with tears in their eyes.
Azalea Board Member J.C. Shetley helped get the wall to Fredericktown and he said it was very powerful.
"It'll get to you," Shetley said. "It is a powerful thing to see all of them and how young they are."
"We must remember these American heroes and speak their names when we see their family members," Co-creator of the memorial Bill Williams said. "We can never forget those who sacrificed everything for our freedom. While this memorial is about those who have died, it was created for the living to help families in their grief, while reminding the rest of us of the terrible price paid for our freedom by our current generation of military."
The exhibit features five panels with military and personal photos of each of the 156 fallen soldiers.
Among the panels was a sign that read, "Stand Down Young Warrior, Your Mission is Complete." It went on to state, "We cannot all pick up the sword, nor should we, but we owe our support and gratitude to those who do, and to their families. Each Fallen Hero, shown here, left behind family and friends who will never forget them and we must be there to support them."
The exhibit encouraged visitors to speak the names of the soldiers for with a spoken name they become more than a number, more than a statistic.
Among the fallen was U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Trevor L. Spink, Jr. of Farmington. Spink died on July 10, 2004 at age 36 in a humvee accident.
Corporal Michael C. Bailey, also from the U.S. Marine Corps, from Leadwood was 29 when he died in combat on June 16, 2010.
The exhibit is endorsed by the American Legion of Missouri and the VFW of Missouri
"I felt honored for our town to be able to host such a prestigious and patriotic event," Fredericktown Mayor Kelly Korokis said. "Fredericktown has such a rich military background."
Memorials like this have been completed by 19 states with the financial help from Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska. The goal is to complete an exhibit for all 50 states to create on national traveling memorial that will include all who have been lost in The War on Terror since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Missouri Remembering Our Fallen Wall will travel to Kansas City, May 27-28 for Celebration at the Station hosted by the Kansas City Symphony.
According to the Remembering Our Fallen website the current number of fallen soldiers from Missouri is now 162. For more information on the exhibit, to donate or to have a fallen soldier added to the memorial visit RememberingOurFallen.org