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uac050113001.gif As America’s First Military Sanctuary Community, we take our patriotism seriously. Home to Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the U.S., we feel it’s important to stand behind our troops, and we embrace any opportunity to salute those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom.

While the rest of the country sets aside one day in May, Memorial Day, to honor fallen members of the military, Fayetteville/Cumberland County dedicates the entire month to celebrate service members, veterans and their families with the annual series of events called 31 Day Salute, now in its fifth year.

This community-wide “salute to soldiers” reflects the collaboration of numerous Cumberland County businesses and organizations dedicated to showing their appreciation for the military through a variety of patriotic performances, ceremonies, exhibits, concerts and fairs.

Nearly 40 local groups are participating in this year’s 31 Day Salute, from military charities to cultural and historical associations, each committed to showing what soldiers, veterans and their families mean to our proud military community.

We encourage and welcome patriots from all over the country to visit Fayetteville/ Cumberland County in May to say thank you to those in uniform while enjoying our entertaining events.

This year’s, 31 Day Salute features exciting new events and many returning favorites. Helping to kick things off is the Fort Bragg Fair, which runs through May 12. This annual festival features carnival rides, live music and entertainment, games, food and fun for the whole family.

The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum will give history buffs a chance to re-live Fayetteville’s patriotic past with guided tours of the War of 1812 and Civil War exhibits at the museum and the rare opportunity to tour the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Museum and Armory, where participants will learn about the early militia system. Other stops include Liberty Point, the F.I.L.I. Parade Grounds, Cross Creek Cemetery and the N.C. Veterans Park.

Hundreds of American flags will fly on the parade grounds of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum starting May 12, with the opening of the 2013 N.C. Field of Honor. Honoring those who currently serve, those who have served and the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation’s freedom, each flag also comes with its own story and displays a large yellow ribbon identifying the person who sponsored the flag and the flag honoree.

Just across the street, the North Carolina Veterans Park will host an Armed Forces Day celebration, which will include a memorial service, a wreath-laying and a table ceremony featuring the Jack Britt High School JROTC color guard.

Those looking for a true military experience can head over to Fort Bragg for the 82nd Airborne Division Living History Weekend. On May 23, the 82nd Airborne Division will hold its offi cial Memorial Service honoring the 7,000 82nd Airborne Division soldiers who lost their lives between 1918-2012. During that time, the 82nd Airborne Division Museum will also display the Living History Encampment, which covers the division’s history from 1917-1999.

A living history program, Pearl Harbor: The Imperial Japanese Navy’s “Flawed” Victory, will be presented at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. The event will provide a detailed look at “lessons learned” from the attack on our Pacific Fleet on Dec. 7, 1941. Jason Wetzel, staff historian with the Office of Army Reserve History, Headquarters – United States Army Reserve, will be on hand to speak about the amazing blunders of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Members of the military will also receive special discounts at several local businesses throughout the month of May. Fascinate-U Children’s Museum is offering half-price admission to all military families and free admission to families of deployed soldiers and The Climbing Place will offer a special discounted rate of $10 to those with a valid military ID.

For a full listing of events, details and participating organizations during the 31 Day Salute, please visit www.31daysalute.com. With diverse events that will appeal to all ages and interests, there is something for everyone. Fayetteville/Cumberland County invites both locals and out-of-town travelers to come out and join us as we salute soldiers, veterans and their families throughout the month of May.

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