In the center of the Avenue of 444 Flags are 12 steel and glass monuments, 12 feet tall by 4 feet wide, in a circle around a beautiful fountain. The first 2 feet of the towers are stainless steel; above are five glass panels, each 2 feet high by 4 feet wide. Etched in the dark glass are the names of all military personnel who have died in the War on Terror since 1975.

The memorial is part of the War on Terror Foundation, a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) organization and educational resource honoring those who gave their lives fighting to preserve our way of life. The foundation is not connected with the government or military and receives all funding from private and public donations. Tom Flynn, foundation president and owner of Hillcrest Memorial Park, said the foundation hopes to teach people, especially children that there is a price to be paid for freedom.

The first panel begins with the names of Col. Paul R Shaffer Jr. and Lt. Col. Jack H Turner who were assassinated in Teheran, Iran on May 21, 1975. Two lines below are the names of the eight servicemen killed on April 25, 1980 trying to rescue the 53 Americans held captive during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Also named are the 53 service members who died at the Pentagon in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The second monument begins with Air Force Master Sgt. Evander E Andrews; the first serviceman to die in Afghanistan killed Oct. 10, 2001. Eight lines below are Marine Maj. Jay T Aubin and his helicopter crew, the first servicemen killed in Iraq, on March 21, 2003.

One of the things you will readily notice at the War on Terror Memorial site is the number of women who have been killed in action. Each tablet on a monument has approximately 80 names; few tablets are without a woman’s name, some with three and four.

As of today, twelve monuments are erected and contain over 7,000 names, all in chronological order of death. New names are added weekly, shortly after confirmation by the Department of Defense.

Designed by IKM Architects and built by Wesex Corporation, the War on Terror Memorial is something that all freedom loving people can be proud of and is a testament that those who paid the supreme sacrifice will never be forgotten.

(courtesy of Visit Mercer County PA)