FALLS CITY – The National Remembering Our Fallen photographic war memorial opened at Prichard Auditorium in Falls City Monday night.
The traveling exhibit honors America’s military fallen since the War on Terror was declared following Sept. 11, 2001.
Noala Fritz, who represents Gold Star families, thanked those who had been in the auditorium a decade earlier for a funeral service for her son, Jacob, and described her emotions about seeing the exhibit for the first time.
Fritz: “When we approached the back door of our farmhouse and through the window we saw two men in Class As and our 14-year-old son, Ethan, standing there to meet us. We didn’t want to go through that door. We wanted time to stop.
So, at the opening of the Nebraska exhibit those feelings returned. It was again having to face the reality that Jacob was gone, never to return.
The Nebraska exhibit was beautiful and many of you have seen it throughout the state and it does such a great job of honoring our loved ones.”
Jacob, the oldest of three sons, was a 2005 Falls City graduate and left for Iraq in 2006.
He was briefly taken prisoner by enemy militia and was being transported — hooded and cuffed — into Iran. As US forces closed in near the border, the Shiite militia then executed its prisoners.
Fritz: “My son is one of 13 POWs from Iraq. My late husband and I lost our son, his brother, Dan, lost his best friend and my youngest, Ethan, lost his hero. But my story is no greater than any other Gold Star family’s. Our heroes completed their missions. Our heroes and their lives will now live on within these towers.”
Fritz said it still only has 70 percent of those fallen. There are 5,200 honored with photos, but another 2,500 need to be added.
Falls City Clerk Gary Jorn was master of ceremonies and introduced Mayor Shawna Bindle and Pastor Grifford.
The Falls City Ceremonial Honor Guard and Girl Scouts presented flags. Annie Crawford sang the National Anthem.
The Falls City High School Band and Choir performed.