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05-25-11-glory_days_logo.jpgUnited States soldiers have left many footprints across the globe, so this Memorial Day weekend the Fayetteville Downtown Alliance is hoping families will take a few booted steps of their own in support of the armed forces at the inaugural Walk a Mile in Their Boots.

The walk, which is the newest addition to the Fayetteville Downtown Alliance’s 11th Annual Glory Days celebration, will kick-off Monday’s festival celebration at 9:15 a.m. The walk will leave from Festival Park and travel down Hay Street, past the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and the Glory Days Field of Honor before returning to the park.

“I’m hoping to see kids coming in wearing their mom or their dad’s boots, or their grandparents’ boots,” said Suzy Hrabovsky, who chairs the Field of Honor. “To see them walk in someone else’s boots, someone that they loved, to show that homage to them. I have this vision of all these kids, maybe even wearing their jackets.”

As well as wearing boots, walkers are encouraged to bring a flag or banner in honor of a soldier.

“We would like people to make a fl ag, or anything that would signify who they’re supporting,” Hrabovsky said. 

While the festival is free, the walk costs $25, which also gets you an event T-shirt. Registration opens at 9 a.m., or ahead of time online at www.glorydaysnc.com.

Net proceeds from the walk will benefi t the United Service Organizations Center, or USO, on Fort Bragg, which is raising money for a soldier center at the Fayetteville Regional Airport.

After the walk, Festival Park will march into full stride with a wide array of family-friendly entertainment, artists, musicians, children’s activities and food. Look for the iconic Uncle Sam on stilts while he passes out American fl ags; gravity-defying aerial artists; a classic car cruise-in; and a vintage military equipment and gear exhibit. Among the musical acts on the bill are the Fayetteville Symphony Brass Quartet and Summerfield.

FDA President Chris Villa said the group has especially expanded the children’s area this year.

“We’ve got Rolling Video (a bus full of video games), jump houses, a kids’ train, games, the SwampDogs and pony rides,” Villa said. “It’s certainly a way to spend the day with family and friends … to celebrate where you live, where you’re coming from, and where your family has been: Serving in the military, representing our country, and keeping us safe. What a way to pay homage and have fun at the same time. And, it’s free!”

Memorial Ceremony

At 11 a.m., take a break from the festivities to spend some quiet time of reflection to honor our fallen soldiers. The city’s annual Memorial Day Ceremony will be held at Freedom Memorial Park, and will feature a wreath ceremony, guest speaker and the sounding of TAPS. For more information, email [email protected]

Friday Movie

Memorial Day is the last day of the Glory Days festivities, which actually start on Friday with a free outdoor showing of Iron Man 2 in Festival Park. The movie starts at dusk, and is shown in partnership with Operation Ceasefi re, which will be giving out free popcorn and drinks to movie goers. At the movie, people can also purchase a Liberty 05-25-11-glory-days-018.jpgLuminary from The Pilot Club, which will hold a vigil for fallen soldiers that night at the park. The women’s organization will sell the luminaries for $5, and money raised will go toward the club’s efforts with traumatic brain injuries and brain disorders.

Field of Honor

This is the fourth year that the FDA and the ASOM have hosted the Field of Honor as part of Glory Days. The orderly field of more than 600 3-by-5-foot U.S. flags stands like a patriotic grove in the parade field near the museum entrance, each bearing a yellow ribbon remembering someone special. The flags went up May 6, and will remain until June 18, after which sponsors can collect or donate their flags.

Cary resident Christopher Dunn was admiring the flags outside the museum on May 13 as part of a fieldtrip with his 9-year-old son, Anthony.

“This is my first time at the museum,” Dunn said. “I did notice (the field) when we were coming in, and I thought it was an awesome experience to see all the U.S. flags and the patriotism that represents. It makes you feel proud when you see the number of flags that represent the soldiers that have fought for our freedom.”

Jim Ryder, ASOM’s director of marketing and public relations, said the museum staff loves having the Field of Honor display each year

“It’s an honor to have them here,” Ryder said. “Everyone who comes to the museum comments on them.”

Ryder said the flags should look even better next year with the addition of the N.C. State Veterans Park, which is scheduled to open on July 4

Sponsoring a flag costs $25 per honoree, and net proceeds are given to the museum and nonprofit organization Fayetteville Cares, which provides civilian support to military families and soldiers.

Last year, the field’s proceeds contributed $4,000 to the ASOM, and $3,000 to Fayetteville Cares, according Villa. Sponsoring a flag can also be done through the Glory Days website.

“I expect to sell out by Memorial Day weekend,” Hrabovsky said. “In the past we’ve usually sold out within the month.

Photo: Downtown is set to celebrate Memorial Day with many activities.

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