(ST. JOSEPH, Mo) A special flag display located at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church features 660 flags, each representing a veteran lost to suicide every month.
On the church's front lawn lies hundreds of American flags, each representing a fallen veteran. What sets the display apart from others is that it honors those whose real battle was within.
"There’s so much pain and anguish that many veterans face when they return," Lynn Brown, organizer of the flag display, said.
Brown, along with her husband David are part of Flags For Forgotten Soldiers. The organization was started in March of 2017 in honor of the Browns' nephew, Staff Sgt. Joshua Barry, who died by suicide. Sgt. Barry's suicide was the result of a long battle with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) he encountered after being involved in the Fort Hood Shooting in 2009.
Sgt. Barry's story is just one of many.
"As they come home, they’re still fighting the battle as it were of the heart and mind." Christian Malewski, Father, Our Lady of Guadalupe, said.
Brown said the pain that can come from just one suicide is too much to bear for one family, she said knowing there are so many that go through it every month, leaves her devastated.
"[We're losing] too many people every month," Brown said. "Each flag represents a life, someone who’s no longer with us."
Brown said she wants to spread a message starting a conversation she hopes will lead to more lives saved, and less flags reserved for suicide victims.
"Our hope is that with this display, maybe someone will make a different choice," Brown said.
The flags will be on display at the church for the entire month of November. The Browns said they want to work with the city of St. Joseph to bring them to more locations around town.
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