UPDATE: Memorial to Fallen Five receives much needed repairs at Ross's Landing
For more than a year flags have flown over Ross’s landing to honor the Fallen Five. Friday, volunteers replaced flags and made repairs to signs.
UPDATE: For almost two years flags have flown over the Tennessee River to honor the Fallen Five. Volunteers with Friends of the Festival said the American flags are a symbol of freedom and the price those five servicemen made on July 16th.
Over time they were in need of a facelift and this week volunteers made that happen. Just a couple of days ago these flags were torn and falling apart.
"It’s very windy down here and as we would say in the navy, ‘battle warned,’ a little bit," said Volunteer Mickey McCamish.
You could barely make out what the plaques said or who they belonged to.
"The sun had taken its toll on them and also the weather caused some of them to crack and it was time for replacement,” McCamish said.
While the names faded on the signs, Chattanoogan's won't ever forget that day or the sacrifices those men made.
"Even though I wasn't personally affected, as far as knowing one of the victims, I was affected because this is my community,” said Resident, Susan Ward.
The memorial is maintained by volunteers at Friends of the Festival. Local businesses donated the flags, and metal signs, that McCamish said will hold up better against the weather.
"I think the fallen five are looking down on those placards and saying job well done,” McCamish said.
Ross’s Landing was the only location that could support ‘Chattanooga Unite,’ when the city came together. For those who re-visit the area, this memorial is a symbol of the sacrifices made.
"It means that we own it. It’s not someone making us do it, we don't feel obligated. It’s something that I think needs to be born in each one of us,” Ward said.
Volunteers said they will continue to monitor the conditions of the memorial and replace the flags a few times a year as needed.
PREVIOUS STORY: For more than a year flags have flown over Ross’s Landing to honor the Fallen Five. It is one of many memorials that the community can visit to remember that fateful day. However, the memorial on Ross’s Landing is starting to fade and fall apart.
The flags on Ross’s Landing were originally just for “Chattanooga Unite,” an event that brought the city together after the July 16th attacks. Mickey McCamish with Friends of the Festival said organizers decided leave them up as a permanent memorial for the community to enjoy year-round.
"It reminds us of that day, it reminds us freedom really isn't free and it was shown that day by the five that were sacrificed,” McCamish said.
Recently, some of the flags have become torn. In addition, you can no longer read the name of the servicemen on their nameplates and one sign is even missing.
"It is windy down on the pier front, the water front there and so the flags do get torn and also the elements on the placards with the sun, we're going to have these elements engraved versus laminated,” McCamish said.
McCamish said since Chattanooga Unite, they've maintained the memorial on the Riverfront, he said they typically replace the flags a few times a year because of the elements.
This month the faded placards will also be changed out, this time with metal plates.
"More resistant to the sunlight, and then they will last longer so then we will not have to replace them on an annual basis,” McCamish said.
Right now, McCamish is waiting to install the new flags until the plaques are made.
He said the same messages, approved by the families will be engraved onto the signs.
They are upgrades he's happy to maintain because he knows how much it means to the community.
"You often hear that phrase freedom isn't free, but we experienced it right here in our own backyard and we never want to forget the fallen five, who gave their lives on that day,” McCamish said.
May is National Military Appreciation Month, organizers hopes to have new flags and plaques installed before the end of April.
Friends of the Festival expects to replace the flags at least one more time between now and the 2nd anniversary of the July 16th attacks.