Memorial for soldiers killed in war on terror on display in Perryville

Monday, August 29, 2011
Carrie and Charlie Skelton of Gordonville view the Remembering Our Fallen memorial Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011 at the Perry Park Center in Perryville, Mo. Photographs of their nephew, Staff Sgt. Bradley J. Skelton, are included in the memorial. He was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq on Feb. 6, 2008. (Fred Lynch)

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- As the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks nears, a traveling memorial pays tribute to those who have fallen in the war on terror.

The images of 130 Missouri soldiers killed in combat line the walls of the Perry Park Center as part of the Remembering Our Fallen memorial. The exhibit displays photographs of men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 60 years old, who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.

Remembering Our Fallen will run through Thursday at the Perry Park Center before moving on to St. Louis. It will return to Southeast Missouri from Sept. 15 to 20 at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.

Perryville city administrator Brent Buerck said city officials were eager to host the memorial, which is being sponsored by the VFW, AMVETS and the American Legion.

"It's important that none of those soldiers are forgotten," Buerck said. "There are a lot of local people included in the exhibit. A couple are from Ste. Genevieve, Jackson and there's even one from Perryville. They served and gave their lives, and they can't be forgotten."

Shanon Cassoutt of Perryville visited the memorial with his family Sunday and said it made him both sad and proud.

Pictures of Staff Sgt. Bradley J. Skelton of Gordonville are included in the Remembering Our Fallen memorial at the Perry Park Center in Perryville, Mo. Skelton was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq on Feb. 6, 2008. (Fred Lynch)

"This memorial is important so we can remember the fallen and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us," Cassoutt said. "If it weren't for them and their sacrifice, we wouldn't be here right now."

Started by Bill and Evonne Williams in Omaha, Neb., Remembering Our Fallen is a not-for-profit organization with three exhibits honoring soldiers from Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.

The couple, whose four sons are in the military, started the memorial in their home state and expanded the tour after seeing its impact on the public.

Bill Williams said he and his wife designed the memorial to give a more personal look at the lives of the soldiers.

"My wife Evonne decided to add personal photos of each of the soldiers next to their official military portraits," Williams said. "... You get to see them as children or as parents with their families. So many times all you get to see is a straight-on photo of an unsmiling Marine. This way you get to see the life behind that image."

Buerck said the personal photos are what make the memorial so moving.

"That really makes you realize that even though they were soldiers, they were also regular people like you and I," Buerck said.

The Williamses are working on exhibits for Colorado and Arizona and hope to add more states by 2012.

The Missouri portion of the tour has visited Jefferson City, Elsberry and Sullivan. Perryville marks the tour's first stop in Southeast Missouri.

Norma Politte of Perryville visited the exhibit to honor the memory of a cousin who fought in Vietnam.

"It's a very nice memorial," Politte said. "These boys went and did what they were called upon to do and they should be remembered."

Admission is free. For more information and a list of tour dates, call Bill Williams at 402-612-0210 or visit rememberingourfallen.org.

ssemmler@semissourian.com

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Pertinent address:

Perry Park Center, Perryville, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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