WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – When Teresa Reagan of Pocahontas saw photos of the Arkansas Fallen Heroes display on Facebook over the weekend, she knew she had to visit it.
“It’s very heartbreaking to see the lives that care so much about our country and serving the people,” Reagan wrote. “Our military does not get the respect they deserve. God bless the military families and the lives that was died protecting us.”
Having a son in the Air Force makes Reagan appreciate the sacrifices many have made. However, some might not truly appreciate the statement, “freedom isn’t free” until seeing the sacrifice made evident by the Arkansas Fallen Heroes display. It is currently set up in Walnut Ridge through Saturday, Oct. 8. at Stewart Park.
“My son, John Land, is in the Air Force and I respect military so much – seeing first hand what the men, women and families sacrifice on daily bases,” Reagan said. “It’s heartbreaking at times and yet rewarding knowing that a stranger would lay his or her life down to protect you.”
The display puts a face with the ultimate sacrifices which went into the freedoms we all enjoy.
Fran Cavenaugh was instrumental in bringing the display to town and when asked why, she said the answer was in the image above.
“Look at the photos of the tribute at night and I think you will know the answer,” Cavenaugh said on her Facebook profile. “It is easy to take the freedoms we enjoy everyday for granted. But our freedom comes with a cost. This tribute helps you understand that cost and puts names with it.”
For Cavenaugh, the inspiration for her to bring this memorial to Walnut Ridge came while she was working on a campaign event in Sharp County, for her race against State Representative James Ratliff.
“Sharna and I were up in the Sharp County Fair, working at my political booth and they had it there,” Cavenaugh said. “Once I saw it there, I told Sharna we needed to find a way to get it in Lawrence County so it could be seen. In the meantime, they did have it in Imboden, but I felt it was important to get it (in Walnut Ridge) so more people could see it. I think the more opportunity we have to get it displayed in more towns, the harder it is to miss.”
Over the weekend, the town came together during the installation of the display in Stewart Park, with Walnut Ridge Fire Department crew coming out to help put up the display – as some photos show.
The display is inspirational in the daytime but it is after dark when the true impact seems to come through the most.
“When you see it all lit up at night, it takes up another whole meaning,” Cavenaugh said. “It adds to the sacrifice these men and women bring. A light has gone out, so we put one in their place.”
Cavenaugh said the key is for everyone to remember all of the freedoms they enjoy every day and to remember the sacrifice which makes it possible.
“We forget: without people making these ultimate sacrifices, there’s no way we can have freedom of speech, freedom of religion or freedom to criticize our government,” Cavenaugh said. “They fought for every bit of that – and I mean young people. There’s some 19-year-olds out there. You hate to see any soldier lost but when you’re dealing with the loss of a life at 19, it’s overwhelming to think they gave their life for me to be able to stand here and to look at a tribute like that. These 19 year olds had their whole life in front of them and they sacrificed it for you and I. And they weren’t drafted. They voluntarily gave.”