When MSG Jim Williams of Lebanon, Tennessee, came home from Iraq he noticed that everything around him seemed quite “normal”.
He was a combat veteran who had survived an enemy attack in 2004 and knew that a-half-world away things were anything but normal.
He wanted to honor the fallen so he picked up his rucksack and marched.
“At first it was just me and old glory,” Williams said. The effort grew.
Last year the Fallen Soldiers March went global with Soldiers marching in Afghanistan and Kuwait to honor their brothers and sisters who had lost their lives in the fight.
His friend Jim Retzke writes:
On Veterans Day 2009, a promise was fulfilled after a challenge had been met. Master Sergeant Jim Williams had challenged at least 100 soldiers to show up for the Annual Fallen Soldiers March in Lebanon, TN; promising to march from the square in downtown Lebanon, TN, across the Cherokee Nation Trail of Tears, along Highway 70, to Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville, Tennessee to honor our United States Military Veterans.
In 2010, the Marchers raised funds to pay for a companion-therapy dog for Spc. Trevor Groetken who had been severely injured in combat.
The Fallen Soldiers March has also raised funds for A Soldier’s Child Birthday, an organization that keeps the memory of fallen parents alive.
This year, Veterans Day 2011, The Fallen Soldiers Marchers will be joined by Lebanon Fire Fighter Chip Vanatta, marching to honor the memory of his beloved friend Chief Warrant Officer Four Daniel Cole and his partner First Lieutenant Thomas Joseph Williams of the 1-230 Air Calvary Desperados; both lost their lives engaged in the test flight of a Kiowa Helicopter in July of 2011.
The funds from this year’s March will go towards acquiring therapy dogs for wounded veterans. These specially trained dogs cost in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $30,000. The need is great. The dogs are expensive and the number of soldiers who could benefit from these dogs increases by the day.*
The March will be on Veteran’s Day. Having served in the military is not a requirement to participate.
*The organizers of this event are aware of other programs to get therapy-companion dogs in the hands of soldiers who are in need.
Examiner’s Note: The Fallen Soldiers March is in need of community leaders and volunteers to help coordinate this event. Please contact Jim Retzke: [email protected] for information on how to participate.
To make a contribution to Fallen Soldiers March there are several ways to do so. Bring a check to Legislative Plaza, (Union & 6th, downtown Nashville), along the route that day or at the final destination in Downtown Lebanon. Contributions can be made to Wilson Bank Fallen Soldiers Fund at any Wilson Bank location. Contact Jim Retzke directly to coordinate a donation at: [email protected]