FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WSVN) — It’s a unique memorial in remembrance of soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq: 7,000 boots lined up on a field at Fort Bragg.
Fox 13 reports that the touching tribute to fallen soldiers was first created three years ago by Survivor Outreach Services, or SOS. The group’s call for combat boot donations caught the attention of one veteran, who decided to help families who could not be there in person honor their loved ones.
Along with donating his own boots for the cause, retired Army veteran Mike Thomas, who works at Fort Bragg, offered to take a photo of any individual boot to send to any soldier’s family who couldn’t attend.
“The display is a powerful tribute to those that have given the ultimate sacrifice in combat,” Thomas wrote on Facebook. “May these great warriors rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them. May God grant comfort to those who love them.”
Thomas posted photos and video of the display, which quickly went viral, getting over 230,000 shares. Multiple people sent in requests of their loved ones’ boots, while thousands of commenters praised him for sharing the memorial.
Each boot represents a fallen soldier, with the display arranged in order of the month and year of the soldiers’ deaths, according to Fox 13. One of the requests Thomas received came from the family of 1st Lieutenant Weston C. Lee, a U.S. Army paratrooper who died April 29, 2017 while fighting ISIS. Lee is the most recent soldier killed, and his boot was last in the display.
Thomas said he photographed at least 50 boots from the memorial at the request of families, and was proud to help honor the lives of those lost fighting for freedom.
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