FITCHBURG — The Veterans & Athletes United Global War on Terror Memorial Flag, which honors all of those who have fallen serving our country since 9/11, was shining bright in Monument Park this past Veterans Day.
The flag is made of over 7,000 dog tags — one for each individual who has made the ultimate sacrifice in the GWOT — and 50 gold stars honoring Gold Star families nationwide.
“Built and funded by veterans, this flag has travelled to over 50 locations nationwide since Memorial Day 2018,” said Johnny Day, a volunteer and travel coordinator for the Veterans and Athletes United organization.
The Veterans & Athletes United is an all-volunteer nonprofit founded and run by veterans for veterans and their families.
Its mission is to empower wounded, injured, and ill veterans to fully live their lives and honor our fallen heroes.
Through their internal programs and a series of service partnerships, VAU provides life-changing opportunities, challenging veterans to achieve goals beyond their disabilities.
“When I first say the flag, it meant so much to me,” said Bill Saladini, president of the Fitchburg Veterans Council. “It is the first time I have seen it in person, and it is just the perfect way to give thanks to men and women who have served our country.
Saladini says it touched him to see the last 13 names of the young men and women who lost their lives in the Afghanistan withdrawal.
John 15:13, which is displayed on the Bronze War Memorial Battle Cross states “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
“We all have our little quirks to remind us of things in our lives,” he said. “Just like Carol Burnett tugged on her ear at the end of every Carol Burnett show, I touch my earring to remind me of my brothers who I left in Vietnam. When I see flags and statutes like the one in Fitchburg, it is such a reminder for us all to give thanks to those who sacrificed their lives for our country.”
All proceeds from the flag’s travel go to support Gold Star family organizations and the GWOT Memorial Foundation’s mission to build a national memorial in Washington, D.C.
For more information on Veterans & Athletes United, and how you can donate, visit VetsAU.com. For more information on the flag, and the names honored, visit VetsAU.com/memorial.