FORT HOOD, Texas — As the Memorial Day observance approaches, Soldiers from the 11th Signal Brigade volunteered in preparation for the Memorial Remembrance Boot Display May 12 here.
This year marks the eighth annual display honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Each fallen Fort Hood servicemember is represented with a combat boot featuring the service member's name and photo, alongside an American flag.
“It’s to honor all branches of service and all deaths. It’s not just Fort Hood; this is nationwide,” said Terry Peggins, Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator. “It lets the community know the sacrifices our fallen heroes have made in this great nation of ours, and it lets their family members know those Soldiers have not been forgotten.”
The unit’s involvement in preparing the boots for the display is thanks to 1st Lt. Andrea Viveros, executive officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 11th Signal Brigade.
Viveros scheduled the volunteer opportunity after seeing the display last year for the first time, with all the messages, pictures, drawings from children, and groups of boots tied together symbolizing lives lost together.
“When I got to Fort Hood, I had never seen anything like it before,” Viveros said. “ It made me realize the importance of Memorial Day. It’s a day to honor Soldiers we have lost throughout the years, and helping with this event, it felt like we were doing that.”
Due to the intense Texas summers, the boots’ badges must be examined to ensure the service members’ photo and name were not sun bleached off. There are approximately 7,800 boots which volunteers are inspecting in order to replace tags as needed.
“11th Signal Brigade is doing the badges and then the boots will go to the field,” said Schicasulyn McFarland, another Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator. “Once the boots are on the field, we’re gonna walk the field and attach the tags to the boots.”
The final Memorial Day display will be set up May 26 and remain open for visitors through May 31. Anyone who wishes to volunteer in efforts to prepare for the display is encouraged to email firstname.lastname@example.org.