(MAYSVILLE, Mo.) As the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks approaches, a local community has come together to remember and pay tribute to fallen heroes that served during America’s War on Terror.
Maysville Jr/Sr High School hosted the National Remembering Our Fallen memorial that features 5,280 photos of fallen service members whose lives were lost in the years since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
The students from Maysville, that assisted in setting up the exhibit, were the first to feel the emotional impact of the memorial by seeing the number of photos of service members who are being honored.
“I think that was astonishing to the kids, they’re like ‘all of these people gave their lives,’ and it really brings it home when you start seeing how many have done that,” Christina Riner, volunteer and Maysville music booster secretary said.
Riner and Maysville’s band director decided to host the display after seeing a former classmate featured in a different exhibit; Matthew D. Mason, who was killed in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan.
“About eight or 10 years ago our [Family, Career and Community Leaders of America] sponsor had brought in the state sign,” Riner said. “I remember seeing one of my classmates and I remembered that so when our band director, Elizabeth Betts, talked about doing this tribute and we talked about different things we could do, it kind of sparked that memory from that long ago.”
As part of the local funds raised to help sponsor the event, several donations were made to honor DeKalb County Sheriff Andy Clark who was killed last summer as well as Cameron Police Detective I.B. Fugate III who also died last year.
“For these two guys, such great guys, to do something in their honor and the things they did for our community, you start thinking about all the sacrifices they made and then it just opens up a whole realm of our military,” Riner said. “They’re away from their families and when stuff like this happens, their families are left alone, so I don’t know a better way to honor them other than to do something like this and try to help their families and to give tribute where tribute is due.”
While the exhibit shows the photos of military members that were killed while serving, there are also banners for those that have lost their lives at home due to illness, training accidents or to suicide.
“I read it and cried because you don’t know what they go through, you can try to understand that and I have not personally had to deal with that,“ Riner said. “I can’t imagine how difficult it is to come home and how do you deal with that,”
Dave Luton, a retired sergeant from the United State Marine Corps, has been involved with the memorial since its debut in Washington, D.C. in 2017.
Luton uses the exhibit to help handle his own struggles with post traumatic stress disorder while helping to educate younger generations.
“I think it is outstanding that the organizers of this took into consideration that the children need to be informed,” Luton said.
For Luton, it is “extremely” important to continue to share the names and faces of those who served.
With the conflicts in the Middle East approaching their 20th anniversary, exhibits like the National Remembering Our Fallen memorial keep the memory of those we have lost alive.
“A man does not truly die, until you forget his name,” Luton said.