A traveling memorial that honors fallen U.S. service men and women from California is on display in Palm Springs for the next week.
The memorial is part of a project called Remembering Our Fallen, which aims to honor all of the soldiers killed since the 9/11 attacks. So far the organization has created memorials for 18 states — of which California has the most fallen soldiers.
The project's co-founder, Bill Williams, said that he and his wife heard a story about a family who lost their son in Iraq. The family's fear was that their son would be forgotten — a sentiment that resonated with Williams and his wife, Evonne. So they got to work.
“That’s our mission, that these men and women would not be forgotten,” Williams told KPCC.
They created a traveling memorial of pictures celebrating the lives of soldiers from their home state of Nebraska, which has been booked every week since January 2011. After the first memorial opened, the two were contacted by Bellevue University asking whether they'd want to create memorials for other states — and they did.
Now operating under the nonprofit organization Patriotic Productions, the project seeks to complete all 50 states — assuming it gets the necessary sponsorships — and then take all of the memorials on national tour, Williams said.
Williams said that with a small percentage of U.S. citizens in the military, the majority of the population does not pay much attention to fallen soldiers.
“Well, if it’s your loved one, it’s everything, and that’s why we do what we do — so people will take a few minutes to honor them for their sacrifice,” Williams said.
California's memorial opened in January 2015 at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, and honors more than 700 soldiers who gave their lives for their country.
Watch a video from the opening of California's Remembering Our Fallen memorial:
Since then, it has traveled around the state. The memorial will be on display in Palm Springs through March 5. The exhibit is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day at La Plaza Shopping Center. After Palm Springs, the memorial will move to Indio, then Palm Desert.
To follow the schedule of the California memorial, or any of the other 17 state memorials, visit www.rememberingourfallen.org.