11 April 2012

Signs of Our Times

Like an old tactical radio, Sherpa's personal Facebook net has crackled to life recently, with traffic regarding 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34th BCT), Iowa Army National Guard soldiers killed in Eastern Afghanistan last year. Anniversary stories make for lazy journalism, but they're also easy emotional handholds—especially for those of us either back home or left behind, who are struggling with What It All Meant.

"All gave some, but some gave all." With all the clutter and din of daily life, that's sometimes a little too easy to forget. I don't know about you, but I appreciate the occasional emotional radio-check. Helps maintain one's perspective, and priorities.

Three of the four 2-34th BCT fatalities in Afghanistan occurred in April 2011. It was a cruel month:
Operation Never Forgotten, a non-profit organization based in Saline, Mich., promotes patriotic messages that encourage others to celebrate and remember military personnel and their families. Through its "Billboards for Heroes" program, the organization helps memorialize fallen soldiers through the production and placement of digital public-service advertisements.

The larger-than-life pictures portray the soldiers not only as military men and women, but as parents, partners, and members of a community.

Starting Mon., April 9, some 14 Des Moines, Iowa metro area billboards owned by Clear Channel Outdoor have borne the image of Staff Sgt. James "Juice" Justice and his daughter Caydence, along with the caption "My Dad, Your Fallen Hero." In one, he wears a fleece cap bearing the logo of his beloved University of Iowa Hawkeyes. The graphics rotate with other advertisements for colleges and cellphones, staying on screen for approximately 10 seconds each time they appear.

In an April 6 television news report, his wife, Amanda Justice, told WHO-TV/Channel 13 that she hopes the billboards remind people of the sacrifices borne by few, as well as the losses we collectively share:
Even if it makes someone think for five seconds while they're driving get to work [...] Or if it brings tears to your eyes [...] I hope it makes people remember and feel something, and just take a second to think about what someone is willing to give up for them [...] I just don't want any of them to be forgotten.
According to Families of Iowa's Fallen, the Des Moines locations of billboards honoring Staff Sgt. Justice include:
  • S.W. 9th St, 500 ft. north of Morgan St., east side of street
  • Fleur Dr., 10 ft. north of Porter Ave., east side of street
  • Keo Way, 100 ft. west of 12th St, north side of street
  • Fleur Dr., 700 ft. north of Bell Ave., west side of street
  • Fleur Dr., 200 ft. south of McKinley, east side of street
  • University Ave., 100 ft. E/O East 27th Ct, south side of street
  • Merle Hay Rd., ES 270 ft. N/O Douglas, east side of street
  • Interstate-80/35, one-half mile east of East 14th St, south side of street
At least one of 14 fatalities suffered in 2011-2012 by 45th BCT ("Thunderbird") has also been memorialized through the Billboards for Heroes program. In July 2011, the Oklahoma National Guard unit replaced Iowa's 2-34th BCT in Eastern Afghanistan, and returned home earlier this month.

1 comment:

  1. The copy of this billboard is wonderful because it appeals to our emotion. It made me feel blessed that my dad is still alive. The small advertising agencies who thought about this copy did a great job!


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