Fort Bragg is probably the preeminent Army post in the United States. Fort Benning can claim ownership of the Infantry School and the Ranger and Airborne training facilities but Bragg is the home of the 82d Airborne Division, its parent headquarters XVIII Airborne Corps, the JFK Special Warfare Center, 3d SF Group, US Special Operations Command, Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, and a boatload of other units.
When it does something, it tends to do it in a big way.
Via the Fayetteville Observer:
Big blue and red letters scrawled across the toe of a tan Army boot capture the sentiment of a proud – and heartbroken – family.
“Our Hero!,” it reads. “Till we meet again!”
Hanging from the boot laces is a tag with a picture of Sgt. 1st Class Keith Callahan, smiling as he stands in his green Army uniform.
The Callahan family said their goodbyes to the soldier in 2007, but will continue to remember him through a temporary special display at Fort Bragg next month.
About 7,500 boots will honor service members from all branches who have died since 9/11. They will be part of a display organized by Fort Bragg’s Survivor Outreach Services and Fisher House during the garrison’s May 5k family run.
“I think it’s going to be a great tribute,” said Charlotte Watson, program manager of Fort Bragg’s survivor outreach group.
The idea for the display came from similar ones at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Watson said. The SOS pushed for a display at Fort Bragg to coincide with Memorial Day and began collecting boots in March.
Volunteers tie the laces of each boot and stuff an empty water bottle inside to hold the shape.
During an event last month, members of the Gold Star Wives organization decorated boots for their veterans. Family members have been invited to decorate boots to mail or drop off at the office, otherwise the boot will hold just a tag of the fallen service member.
Memorial Day may be a three-day weekend to most of the country, but on bases where friends and neighbors have bled and died, it is always something much more.