- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2009

FORT BRAGG, N.C. | Fayetteville, N.C., will celebrate soldiers, veterans and military families with a month of events making up “31 Days of Glory.”

A variety of ceremonies, exhibits and activities - including Memorial Day events - have been scheduled throughout May to pay tribute to the sacrifices of the men and women in the armed forces.

At the beginning of the celebration, on May 2, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex unveiled a special presentation titled “A Thousand Words.” The exhibit, which will run through Nov. 15, features 54 photographs from the Vietnam War taken by North Carolina veterans and ranging from daily routines and combat activities to personal moments.

“Ranger Buds,” taken in 1971 by soldier Al Stewart, shows Mr. Stewart with his Ranger buddy Keith Cunningham.

“The only thing I can think to attribute the expressions on our face is, we’re putting on our game face,” Mr. Stewart said. “We’re getting ready to go out on a mission, and life changes when you’re getting ready to go out. Your mind-set changes.”

He said everything the soldiers took on missions was carried on their backs. Their cargo included enough ammunition to sustain a 45-minute firefight and 2-quart canteen covers with 30-round magazines in them.

“I hate to embellish it, but I think we generally carried anywhere from 100 to 110 pounds,” he said.

In 1968, soldier Dale Doub photographed “Helicopter Down.”

“What had happened is that we supplied on the afternoon of February 6, and the next day we needed to get the water cans back out, so the command pilot thought he could just come pick the water cans back up and leave, and they shot the pilot when he came in,” Mr. Doub said.

“War’s a funny thing. What may seem like a bad moment to you after the firefight is a real peaceful moment because you’re just kind of kicking back.”

In the middle of the exhibit, a setting known as the Missing Man Table honors U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action.

On May 14, some students from Murray Elementary School at Fort Bragg viewed the exhibit while on a class field trip. Teacher Deborah Bailey said the students - members of the Murray Junior Historians and the Murray Science Club - not only saw the photographs, but also learned about the history of the Cape Fear region.

Other events for the “31 Days of Glory” include the Field of Honor, which was formally dedicated May 9 outside the Airborne and Special Operations Museum. The field is made up of 3-by-5-foot U.S.flags displayed on the parade grounds and at the site of a future Veterans Park.

“Part of the fabric of who we are is to honor those servicemen and -women,” said Field of Honor Chairman Larry Clubine.

Flags can be purchased and dedicated in honor of a service member. The proceeds will be used to build a permanent monument at Freedom Memorial Park or given to Fayetteville Cares, a community readiness group that supports service members and their families.

Each flag has a symbolic yellow ribbon attached to it with the sponsor’s name and the honoree’s name. The flags will be displayed through Memorial Day.

Fayetteville residents Mark and Karen Ingram dedicated their flag to active-duty service members in their Sunday school class, many of whom are in Afghanistan.

Mr. and Mrs. Ingram have taught the young married couples’ Sunday school class for years at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church. On any given Sunday, attendance ranges from 30 to 50, with a group of people in the front row whose spouses are deployed.

“To the Soldiers and Airmen of the Ingram Sunday School Class [current and former]: We are proud of the commitment that you make to serve.We have purchased and placed a flag in your honor. Thanks for your service,” Mr. Ingram said.

• Kelly Twedell is a writer in Fayetteville, N.C. Her husband is stationed at Fort Bragg.


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