INDIANAPOLIS — A group that travels across the U.S. every year to honor fallen service members, made a stop on Indy’s southeast side Friday morning to hold a ceremony.
Each year “Tribute to Fallen Soldiers” travels from Oregon to Arlington National Cemetery. Along the way, they make stops to highlight and honor the life of a fallen service member.
Today’s event focused on Staff Sergeant Jeffery Reber, who took his own life after serving multiple tours as a U.S. Marine. FOX59 has shared his story before, and his mother’s effort to get the DOD to recognize all military deaths, even cases of suicide, so that Reber’s name would appear on military monuments and memorial walls.
“Jeffery’s service and sacrifice will always be honored and he isn’t forgotten. No matter how much time has gone by,” said Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Executive Director Warren Williamson. “That’s our core mission is to remind these families that they are remembered and that they are loved and that their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed.”
The ceremony was held at Raymond Park Middle School Veterans Park. There is a brick laid in honor of Reber at the park.
This is the 13th year for the group’s ride across the country. During that time they have made more than 1,000 visits to different communities and honored the families and lives of fallen service members.
“It’s our mission to make sure that we wrap our arms around them, and that’s what we do at the very end of each ceremony. We put our hands on them and let them know that they have a new family and that they will be remembered,” Williamson said. “For me personally, it is, we are always so grateful that they have invited us to honor their service member. And when you pull up you can tell they’re grateful as well. And you can see the tears in their eyes what it means to them. So, that keeps us going each and every day.”
During the cross-country ride, the group also escorts an “eternal flame”. It stays lit 24 hours a day during the journey, before being extinguished in Arlington.
Once at the cemetery, they will also ring a bell for each of the 68 service members they are honoring during this year’s ride.