FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — For over half a mile of Porter Street inside the Fort Detrick installation, American flags lead the way.
“When you’re watching them, it reminds you of what we actually do and when we raise our hands to take the oath, what it actually means,” explained Fort Detrick Garrison Commander, Col. Dexter Nunnally.
The 245 flags planted along the road represent the 245 years since the inception of the U.S. Army. Since 1775, members have given the ultimate sacrifice.
“It’s a career for many of us and a career where, if the nation calls us to do it, we’re willing to lay our live down. These 97 individuals have actually done that,” said Nunnally.
Below 97 flags is a placard with the rank and full name of fallen heroes with ties to Fort Detrick.
“These 97 placards represent the 97 service members who have fallen since 9/11 that are in Fort Detrick’s area of responsibility,” explained survivor outreach services coordinator at Fort Detrick, Elizabeth Keirsey.
This includes fallen soldiers whose families live in parts of Western Maryland, the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, and Frederick County, Virginia.
“We recognize not only them, but their families. We want them to know that their families are never forgotten,” said Keirsey, “They’re always part of the army family and this is a recognition of that.”
In an effort to provide these families who may no longer have a Department of Defense identification card needed to access the installation, the army introduced the Survivor Access Card.
“We want to simplify things, we don’t want it to be a hassle. We want them to be able to come on, show their I.D. and the guards go, ‘Oh, wow they’re a gold star family member,’ they have right to come on to our post. And it’s all about being part of the army family,” Keirsey explained.
So far, less than 10 gold star families have been issued a survivor access card.
Keirsey estimates that about 40 percent of the families of the fallen heroes will visit the installation and see the memorial display.
The flags and placard will remain on display through the U.S. Army’s 245th birthday on June 14.
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