Soldiers, veterans honor ‘fallen’ service members at war memorial

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, (KSNT) — Soldiers and veterans honored fallen service members at the opening of a new war memorial at the Kansas National Guard Museum on Wednesday.

The traveling exhibit, called “Remember Our Fallen,” pays tribute to those who died while serving America, and commemorates the 20-year anniversary of 9/11. A “Gold Star Family Wreath” was presented for the families who lost their loved ones, along with 34 towers decorated with portraits of those who died since the global war on terror.

“Several of the names on these placards are people that I either served with or knew,” said SGM Jeremy Byers.

Byers has served in the Kansas National Guard for almost 30 years, making life-long friends and losing some along the way. He remembered the lives of Kansas military members, like Sergeant First Class Bernard Lee Deghand of the U.S. Army who died in Afghanistan, and Sergeant First Class Courtney Finch who died in Iraq.

The exhibit has been in states across the country and is now in Kansas, where people will have the opportunity to tour the memorial.

Governor Laura Kelly also attended the event, sharing her experience of growing up in a military family and coming from a line of first responders. She recounted the horror of 9/11 that people across the nation experienced when the twin towers fell in New York City.

“The tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, changed our world forever. Those of us, who lived through it will never forget that day— where we were, what we were doing when we heard it on the news, the pure shock, the confusion, and the fear,” Kelly said.

The tragic event sparked the global war on terror, a U.S. military campaign to end international terrorism, which led to the deaths of thousands of soldiers.

Retired Brigade General Ed Gerhardt, president of the Kansas National Guard Museum, who served more than 38 years as a national guardsman, said he hopes people will remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect their country and the lives of others.

“We want people to appreciate the tremendous sacrifices that all of our soldiers and many of our guardsmen have given,” Gerhardt said.

The “Remember Our Fallen” exhibit aims to keep the memory of fallen service members alive.

A special event, which includes a World War 2 battle re-enactment, is scheduled for Saturday, June 12. To learn more about their national tour, and upcoming events, click here.

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