Moving memorial becoming a moving tribute to fallen military members
HARRISBURG, Ill. — A group of Illinois families came together several years ago to dedicate a moving memorial for the lives lost of military men and women who died during the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The knock on the door is always there," said Don Pannier.
He can't shake the memory of hearing about his son's death. His son, Army Specialist Philip Pannier, died during an ambush in northern Iraq in 2005. He was 20.
After the initial shock of losing his son, Pannier said he knew he had to do something to honor people like philip. "I'm here to honor him, celebrate his sacrifice," he said.
Philip, along with Wyatt Eisenhauer are two of the 274 Illinois men and women, who, without their knowledge but because of their service, are making stops around Illinois - giving a face to the names of those who were carried home.
"I don't think anybody walks away from the wall with tears. But when you get to know the people, the tears aren't only for your son but for all the families that you know," said Gay Eisenhauer.
She got her knock on the door in 2005.
"I'm very honored that people have taken the time to put a face to my son's name and put it on a wall like this that is traveled around the state of Illinois for people to pay honor and tribute to our fallen," Eisenhauer said.
Pannier knows more names will be put on the wall - that's comes with the territory. But he hopes as more names are added more support will follow.
"This is one reason we travel with the wall: to meet other Gold Star families and to celebrate their love of their lost loved ones - just to visit," Pannier said.