United 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!”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Luminary 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.