MADISONVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — More and more community members are paying tribute to the 13 fallen service members killed in an attack at the Kabul airport last month. One of those killed was Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss from East Tennessee.
Over the last several days, countless tributes have poured in – from memorials to 13 flags flown at football games. Now, in Madisonville, community members have also recognized the fallen.
“We placed 13 flags in memory of the soldiers that sacrificed their life in Afghanistan,” said Susan Saunders, President of the Downtown Madisonville Association.
Saunders helped make the memorial happen. The Downtown Madisonville Association lent the flags, inspired by Navy veteran Larry Phillips.
“I just said man I’d love to have 13 flags up there at the veteran flag pole,” Phillips said. “I love each and every one of my military brothers and sisters. Each time we lose one, it’s like I lose my own family member.”
On Saturday, there was a ceremony to put up the 13 flags, which now join the much larger one at the Veterans Flag Memorial. State Representative Lowell Russell was also there.
“It was just simply an honor to be able to honor their memory with these 13 flags, and it serves as a reminder of us to pray for their families that are left behind, and all the service members that are serving,” Russell said.
They’re hoping the memorial serves as a reminder of the fallen’s ultimate sacrifice.
“I hope they realize what these 13 right here have done for us. Most people don’t realize what they do. They give their life so we can do what we’re doing right now,” Phillips said.
“Of course, they remember those lives lost in Afghanistan but they also remember that freedom is not free,” said Russell.
There is no set date on how long the flags will stay up. Saunders is hoping to keep them up at least through Veterans Day.