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Fort Bragg exhibits 7,500 boots to honor fallen service members

More than 7,500 boots on display at Fort Bragg served as a temporary memorial for service members of all branches that have died since 9/11.

The boots, which had the photos of the service members and the dates of his death, were on display for the annual Race, Honor and Remembrance of the Fort Bragg Family and Moral, Welfare and Recreation Directorate on May 18 and for the race of the 82nd Airborne Division that started All American Week.

"It shows families that service members are still remembered, honored and not forgotten," said Charlotte Watson, manager of the Fort Bragg Survivor Assistance Program.

The idea for the screen came from similar ones in Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The first exhibition at Fort Bragg was at Hedrick Stadium in 2014. It was organized at Survivor Outreach Services and Fisher House at Fort Bragg.

Jonathan Lomax, who was in the Marine Corps for 21 years, was one of those who stopped to see the boots and pay their respects on May 17.

Although Lomax knows of the Marines who died in combat, he said he hoped he would not have recognized the names on the boots while walking among the multiple rows in the field at Hedrick Stadium.

"Any loss of life is serious, so these are my brothers," said Lomax. "That's the way I see it."

Memorial at Fort Bragg: 7500 boots to honor the fallen

(United States Army / Pfc. Hubert D. Delany III)

A collection of boots, each with a photo of a fallen service member, is lined up at the commemorative exhibit at Fort Bragg, N.C., May 19, 2019

He stopped to reflect on what the boots symbolized.

"It means that we have lost good soldiers, many good service members fighting for this country," he said. "And this is only recently, it's not the ones we lost before (9/11), many young people."

This was the fourth year that Beth Grimshaw volunteered to help set up the screen.

One of the boots represented Dr. Mark Taylor, a lieutenant colonel who worked at Womack Army Medical Center. She was assigned to the front surgical team of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Taylor was killed during a rocket attack on March 20, 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq.

"I have husbands of some friends who are here," said Grimshaw, who stopped to reflect on May 17. "I'd like to see this so they do not forget."

Addressing Memorial Day, Watson said the boots were on display to serve as a reflection of the sacrifices that all military industries have made.

"The true meaning of Memorial Day is not picnics and barbecues, although they are great things, the meaning is to pay tribute," he said.

© 2019 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.). Distributed by Content agency tribune, LLC.

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