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Fort Smith
Sunday, October 2, 2022

A Walk To Remember

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Every American remembers where they were and what they were doing on September 11, 2001. I had just started my senior year of High School and was sitting in Psychology class. As my teacher was getting ready for her lesson, another teacher stuck her head in the door and told her she needed to get her t.v. cart out and turn on the news. And there it was. On every station, you saw a tower with smoke coming out of it. It took all of us a minute to realize what was happening. The silence that filled the school was chilling, to say the least. After 30 minutes of watching the horrors taking place, it was time for the next class period.

Nobody really talked the rest of that day. We all just kind of went through the motions with the same fearful look in our eyes. With so much confusion as to what was happening, the majority of us were waiting for another attack, worried that it would be us next. September 11, 2001, resulted in the largest loss of life on American soil by a foreign attack. That day, nearly 3,000 people died from the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. But that day, something else happened as well. Every single American stood united arm in arm to show our enemies that we would not be broken that easily. It took nearly nine months for the Twin Towers site to be cleared of debris. For 24 hours day after day after day, Americans watched from their homes as brave men and women from all over the country, worked tirelessly to pick up the pieces.

In 2002, the Tribute of Light was constructed near ground zero which is where the towers used to sit. The Tribute consists of two light beams projected into the New York sky every year from September 11 until dawn on September 12 to represent the attacks that took place on that horrific day. But this year on September 11, something even more unpleasant is happening. Due to the fear of large group gatherings and spreading the coronavirus, the New York sky will remain dark. But there is one event that is still happening.

On September 12, 22 Shenanigans along with 9/11 Honor and Team Red, White, and Blue, will be hosting an Awareness Walk in memory of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks. Also being honored in this walk are the servicemen and servicewomen killed in action during the wars that make our freedom possible. Military personnel often have to deal with high-intensity, stressful, and dangerous environments for months or years at a time resulting in life-altering mental health issues. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, depending on the time of year, between 529,000 and 840,000 find themselves living on the streets suffering from drug and alcohol abuse along with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Another reason for having this walk is to bring awareness to a problem that is spreading through our military like a contagious disease. Suicide. 22 Shenanigans was organized after a local veteran’s brother committed suicide. According to the Office of Suicide Prevention, 22 veterans lose the fight to battle their inner demons and succumb to taking their own lives. The Awareness Walk is being done to spread awareness that a veteran never walks alone. Local Magazine resident, Jarrod Moore, was on board the USS Tarawa the day the towers fell.

“It was a day that changed my life as well as every American’s life. Yes, over time, the spirit has dwindled into the soup sandwich that we have today. I recently joined an organization of Veterans that try and keep united through exercise and fitness. Three years ago due to a flare-up of Multiple Sclerosis, I was wheelchair-bound for 5 months. I didn’t know if I was going to walk again. But because of a wonderful physical therapist, I did.”

“If a person wants to walk, all they need to do is just show up. Now they can walk at any point in the race they want to. They will need to find a way to make it to their starting point, but we will have someone to bring them back to their vehicle. We are asking if everyone can show up for the beginning ceremony and walk the final half-mile to the Paris courthouse. There will be a ceremony for paying awareness to 22 Shenanigans at the Paris courthouse afterward.”

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