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Family members and friends from all across Georgia gathered Sunday for the grand opening ceremony of the temporary exhibit Remembering Our Fallen at the National Infantry Museum. The exhibit is a photo tribute to those who died since Sept. 11, 2001, while serving in the military.
Its been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that phrase cannot be even truer than it is today, said Col. Leopoldo Quintas, Armor School commandant and keynote speaker. There are no words that can adequately express the experience of viewing these nearly 200 photographs. Being able to look into the faces of these men and women look into their eyes, see their smiles makes them real to all of us in a way that simply reading about them cannot.
The exhibit was the creation of Bill and Evonne Williams of Omaha, Neb., a couple with four sons who serve in the Army and Marines. It started in Nebraska and after the success of the first state exhibit, the couple quit their jobs and formed the nonprofit organization, Patriot Productions, Bill said.
They wanted to pursue their goal of creating a mobile exhibit in every state, he said. Right now, there are 11 states with exhibits.
Our mission is that your loved ones will not be forgotten, Bill said. And we will work tirelessly to make that happen.
Eventually, he said, they want to unveil all of the state exhibits in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day in 2016.
Also in attendance at the ceremony was the Patriot Guard. Sandra Simpson, the grandmother of fallen Soldier Sgt. Corey Spates, recalled when the Patriot Guard attended the visitation and funeral of her grandson.
They stood in the church parking lot and then they were at the funeral home we didnt know it but we understood later that there were a few protesters and they kept them at bay we never even knew (the protestors were there), Simpson said.
The guard had also ridden in large numbers behind and in front of the funeral procession and encircled the Family at the cemetery, she said. The experience of having people she didnt know volunteer their time to attend her grandsons funeral was touching. And the exhibit was another way to show support for Families. She and Spates mother, Joy Thomas, along with other relatives came from Lagrange, Ga., to attend the opening. Its very moving very honoring that they would develop this for us from the state of Georgia, Simpson said.
The photos showed the diversity of the fallen service members, Quintas said.
They are husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and treasured friends, he said. They served in different branches of our military in a wide variety of capacities in locations across the world. Despite their diversity, what ties them all together is their dedication to service and to our nation and to each other and to you. For more information and for tour schedules, visit www.rememberingourfallen.org.