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Names added to Fallen Heroes Memorial are reminder of 'freedoms we take for granted'

Posted at 7:40 PM, May 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-01 19:42:45-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The names of more than 40 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect our country were added to the Fallen Heroes Memorial in Chesterfield County Saturday.

The 28 x 6 foot American flag, which was funded and built by veterans and volunteer groups, symbolizes the shape of the flag when draped on a fallen service member's casket, according to officials with the nonprofit Veterans and Athletes United (VAU).

Forty-six dog tags in memory of the veterans who died in the War on Terror in 2020 were added to the display, which was the dream of Chesterfield Iraq War veteran James Howard.

Commemorations for families of the fallen are critical since they help keep their loved ones' legacies alive, said Howard.

"They're very appreciative to have them recognized," Howard said. "Really remind our country the freedoms we take for granted, and see what this flag is made of, and who keeps us free and flying under it."

Howard, who founded VAU, said the 50 gold stars on the flag to honor and recognize gold star families from all 50 states. The front of the flag features a battlefield cross sculpted by veteran artist Alicia Dietz.

The names of three of Howard's friends are etched in dog tags that comprise the memorial.

"There's that quote, you die twice in this world. The first time physically when you pass away and then the last time when someone speaks your name," Howard said in 2018. "So we hope these names will never be forgotten for the rest of our lives."

The Fallen Heroes Memorial is a traveling installation that has been on display at various locations across the country.