The overcast skies and hazy grey lighting on Wednesday, Sept. 9 were a fittingly somber backdrop to the exhibit that was installed earlier in the day at the Veterans Island section of Cooper River Park in Cherry Hill. Attendees at the exhibit were mostly silent as they walked from display to display viewing the photos with quiet reverence.
“Remembering Our Fallen” is an exhibit honoring those who lost their lives following 9/11 as a result of The War on Terror. The photographic war memorial is a traveling display of photos of men and women in the military and serves as a tribute to the fallen soldiers and their families. The exhibit was installed at Cooper River Park on Wednesday and will remain on display through Saturday, Sept. 12.
The display consists of 32 tribute towers with photos of men and women who died serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, service members who died in attacks or during training accidents and those who took their own lives after returning home as a result of post traumatic stress.
Camden County Freeholder Melinda Kane said last year, the Freeholder Board brought a traveling wall to honor those who had lost their lives during the Vietnam War, and the event was so well-received that they were eager to do something similar to honor those who had more recently lost their lives.
Kane said the “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit was on the board’s radar, and they made plans to bring the display to Cherry Hill months ago. Given the pandemic, they were unsure if they’d still be able to host, but because the display could be set up outside in an area spread out enough to allow for ample social distancing, they decided not to cancel.
All those who attend are asked to wear a mask and to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The display is open to the public 24 hours a day so that people could come at a time they felt most comfortable attending. Kane said veterans from all over Camden County were eager to act as volunteer ambassadors to answer questions about the display for those who visited.
For Kane, the display has a personal significance. Her son Jeremy Kane’s photo is among those on the travelling display. In January 2009, Jeremy was serving in the United States Marine Corps when his patrol unit came upon a suicide bomber. The Cherry Hill High School East graduate was killed while intervening to stop the attack.
She said the display’s timing is especially apt because next year marks the 20 year anniversary of 9/11. Kane said the terror attacks propelled many men and women to join the military – including her son. Jeremy was 14 years old at the time of the attack, and he later enlisted on Sept. 11 during his freshman year of college.
Kane said for Gold Star families (the families of a fallen service member) there is a fear that people will forget their loved one’s service. The display is a visual reminder that their sacrifices will not be forgotten.
“It’s more than just seeing a name; it’s seeing a face and bit about who they were,” Kane said.
To learn more about “Remembering Our Fallen,” visit www.patrioticproductions.org/rememberingourfallen.