A new charitable foundation is sponsoring a Freedom Run that will circle St. Louis on Memorial Day to honor current military members, veterans and their families.
The group, called Faces of Freedom Fighters, is seeking participants who will ride in the parade-like run in cars and trucks and on motorcycles. Entrants must register by Wednesday, May 25.
“We have about 100 participants so far, but we’re hoping for more,” said Martin Harris, the group’s founder and executive director. “We think this is the first time a run will circle the St. Louis area for veterans.”
The run will begin in the parking lot of at 800 S. Highway Drive in Fenton. Officials from the will raise the flag to start the event at 11 a.m.
Harris said police and fire officials in other areas of St. Louis and Jefferson counties have agreed to assist in the event.
After leaving the Stratford Inn, the run will continue as follows:
- Interstate 44 East from Stratford Inn;
- Interstate 270 North;
- Interstate 70 East through downtown St. Louis;
- Interstate 55 South;
- Interstate 270 West;
- Highway 30 (Gravois) West.
It will end at in High Ridge.
Faces of Freedom Fighters is a non-profit organization dedicated to building the state’s first national monument to honor fallen soldiers from Missouri. Richard Weidemann, the group’s board president and former architect/designer, is working on a sketch of the monument.
“It’s just now in its early stages, and we’re still working on changes for the design,” Weidemann said. “It’s likely to cost more than $300,000 to create the final product.”
The organization is also planning to construct two other monuments – one will honor disabled veterans and the other will be a pictorial monument that will include photos of all Missouri veterans who died in the line of duty. The group is still considering the where the monuments will be placed, as well as a timeline for completion.
Harris founded the group and although he has never served in the military, his son and other family members and friends have. He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 1028, and an honorary member of the St. Louis-Area Chapter of the Missouri POW/MIA.
Harris came up with the idea for the group after two local soldiers died in the line of duty in 2009 only four months apart.
Army Sgt. Edward Watson Forrest, Jr., grew up in Fenton and graduated from Rockwood Summit High School. He was one of five soldiers killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in April 2009.
Four months later, Army First Class Sgt. William Brian Woods, Jr. was shot while on patrol in Afghanistan and later died from his injuries. He grew up in Jefferson County and graduated from Northwest High School.
“After we lost Brian, I thought we just have to do something to honor these men and women who gave up their lives for our freedom,” Harris said. “I don’t want to see the children of these fallen soldiers grow up and not have their parents recognized until years later like what happened with the Vietnam War.”
While there is no cost to participate in the run, Harris is hoping some of the entrants will make donations to the group's monument fund.
Fore more information on the event or to register, contact Harris at 314-769-2068 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contribute to the monument fund, visit the organization’s website.