‘Remembering Our Fallen’ opens Saturday

Gratitude can be expressed in the simplest of ways.

For the men and women of the armed services who died while serving in active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, reverence for their sacrifices will be expressed with the instillation of the “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit at the Crossroads Mall Saturday.

“It’s not a big display, but it’s an important one,” said Dan Lewandowski, director of Webster County Veterans’ Affairs. “A lot of people will come and simply look, and it may not mean a lot to them. Still, for others, it will really hit home.”

The 40-foot wall of photographs and mementoes is comprised of soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines from across Iowa who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including families from the Webster County area. An opening ceremony will be held to unveil the display at 10 a.m. Saturday at center court in the mall. The honor guard will be present, as will members of the Freedom Riders patriotic motorcycle group. Additionally, Lewandowski will speak.

“It will be a time of remembrance and healing,” Lewandowski said.

“Remembering Our Fallen” was established in 2010 by Bill and Evonne Williams, of Omaha. The original display honored service members from Nebraska and made such an impact on the public and the families of the featured fallen that Bellevue University, near Offutt Air Force Base, approached the couple and asked them to partner with them to build traveling memorials for other states.

What is interesting, Lewandowski said, is that the Williamses did not come from military families nor are veterans themselves, however, each of their four sons have gone on to serve in either the Army or the Marines.

The current display will remain at the mall through April 28 after which it will travel on to Spirit Lake.

“Take the time to come out,” Lewandowski said. “Look it over. What better way to spend a weekend about sacrifice than to remember those who gave their all.”