Louisville's Freedom Walk Could Draw 5,000 Participants

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2006 - Thousands of Kentuckians are expected to show their patriotism at the Sept. 10 Freedom Walk in Louisville, Ky., a volunteer organizer for the event said yesterday.

"I think it's more than appropriate that we show support for our troops who have their lives on the line daily to ensure that we have freedom," Wayne Hettinger told American Forces Press Service during a telephone interview from his office in Louisville.

"The response we've had in the Louisville area has been phenomenal," Hettinger said, noting he and other Louisville Freedom Walk organizers are preparing for a large turnout.

"We're gearing up, right now, for maybe up to 5,000 (walkers) or more," Hettinger said, depending on the weather.

On April 21, Louisville enlisted in the Defense Department's "America Supports You" program, which highlights ways private citizens and corporations can show support for the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces. Hettinger has produced "Thunder Over Louisville," the city's annual patriotic extravaganza featuring flyovers, fireworks and more, for 17 years.

Louisville's Freedom Walk is among other, similar events slated in more than 120 cities across the 50 states to remember those who lost their lives during the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and to honor America's military veterans, past and present.

The free, one-and-a-half-mile walk will begin and end at the Waterfront Plaza fountains in downtown Louisville, Hettinger said.

The event was planned as a tribute free of fanfare, Hettinger said. "We wanted to make it just very plain and simple," he said. "Nothing more than to come down and show support."

Louisville's Freedom Walk and similar events held around the country parallel the Washington, D.C., Freedom Walk scheduled Sept. 10 and sponsored by the Defense Department's America Supports You program. Information for people interested in organizing Freedom Walks in their communities is available at the America Supports You Freedom Walk Web site.

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