With National Military Appreciation Month beginning May 1, members of the Military Family and Support Group are reminding the public of an exhibit established to recognize military personnel currently serving.
The Wall of Heroes, located on the main floor of the Brown County Courthouse, was constructed in 2003 after the war in Iraq began.
“When we started this, we wanted people to appreciate the military,” said Joyce Leidig, coordinator of the support group. “We wanted our troops to come back with pride and be treated better than how the veterans returning from Vietnam were treated.”
The importance of the Wall of Heroes has changed for Marie Marr, whose son is currently deployed to Iraq.
“Before, when I would pass (the wall), I would say, ‘I know this person and that person,’” Marr said. “Now that my son’s picture is up there, it definitely has a new meaning for me.”
Marr’s son, Pfc. Charles “Richie” Marr, is a 2005 graduate of Brownwood High School, and now a soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C. Marr said the wall is not only a reminder to those who visit the courthouse, but can also be motivation for the troops themselves.
“My son was very happy when I told him that his picture was up on the wall,” Marr said. “It made a difference to my son.”
Marr said the wall has provided her with a “better understanding and more pride and respect.”
Staff Sgt. Eddie Dawson, who is on his second tour in Iraq, was unable to be home for the birth of his first grandchild.
Missing life moments, combined with the daily rigors of being deployed reiterates the importance of the Wall of Heroes, said Dawson’s wife Chrissy.
“There are going to be people who are not going to stop and look at the wall,” Dawson said. “But even if they just glance when they walk by, hopefully they will think about the people who care enough to go and fight for their freedom.”
Gazing at the wall, Dawson, who also has a son who has been deployed to Iraq twice, said she was grateful for the wall.
“Sometimes I think that some of them feel like they are forgotten because (the war) has been going on for so long,” Dawson said. “Looking at these pictures is overwhelming.”
Marr said she hopes the Wall of Heroes will reach a specific demographic.
“We are really looking for the support of those who don’t have family members in the military,” Marr said.
Leidig added that the “point” of the wall is still the same as when it began six years ago.
“This is simply about wanting our military to be recognized,” Leidig said.
Anyone currently on active duty or in a reserve or National Guard status are eligible to have a photo and information posted on the wall. Applications can be picked up from Babs Shields at the Brown County Clerks Office or by calling Leidig at 784-5014.