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Part of 911 terror to be in Shepherdsville

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By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - With Bullitt County’s help, a national memorial will soon be built honoring victims of 9/11 and fallen soldiers from the ensuing war.

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The American Fallen Warrior Memorial Foundation’s Gold Star 11 tour will stop in Shepherdsville on Wednesday, Sept. 4, as part of its convoy across the United States.

The rolling museum features artifacts from the World Trade Center, including an anchor from the slurry wall that supported the Twin Towers.

The convoy includes 17 stops over five weeks in cities ranging from Ft. Myers, Florida, to Salt Lake City, Utah, on it’s way to the Kansas City area. Shepherdsville City Park is the convoy’s only Kentucky appearance.

“They will arrive from Nashville and stop in Lebanon Junction, and then receive a police escort up to the park,” said Shepherdsville mayor Scott Ellis.

The mayor will speak during the ceremony, along with Bullitt County Circuit Clerk Paulita Keith, AFWMF CEO and founder Tonya Evans, and Gold Star Mother Becky Johnson.

Johnson’s son, SSG Gary Lee Woods, Jr., was a Bullitt County native serving with the Delta Company of the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, deployed to Mosul as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he died in 2009.

According to Ellis, Johnson requested the convoy stop in Shepherdsville so Woods’ hometown would be represented. 

Johnson currently volunteers as the National Gold Star director.

Another special guest speaker will be Scott Schrimpe, a retired New York City firefighter who lost his entire crew at the World Trade Center. Schrimpe has only been speaking publicly in the past year, Evans said.

Although the convoy will make bigger stops at NASCAR races and Major League Baseball games, Evans said crew members were most excited about the small town stops such as Shepherdsville.

Evans said the convoy should arrive at the Shepherdsville City Park around noon, where artifacts will be readied for display and a stage constructed.

“Everyone will be able to touch, feel and heal through this exhibit,” she said.

The highlight of the event is the Star 11, the only anchor artifact from the World Trade Center slurry wall. Evans said the piece was being transported to Kansas, where it will become part of the new American Fallen Warrior Memorial.

“This was the only wall left standing of the old building,” Evans said. “It will be on the truck.”

The unveiling of artifacts will begin at 6 p.m. with a flag raising ceremony and a performance of the National Anthem. Ellis said emergency crews from the entire county were invited to participate in the ceremony.

The official program begins at 7 p.m. with the scheduled guest speakers and three musical acts, including Nathan Osmond, AFWMF spokesperson and son of Donny Osmond.

Other guest performers include singers Diana Nagy and Bert Lynch, a veteran of the United States Air Force.

The event is free and open to the public, with donations being collected for AFWMF for a new memorial dedicated to citizens and emergency responders lost on 9/11, along with fallen soldiers in the  ensuing war.

“Our motto is Build It New, America,” said Evans. “This is a national $30 million project and will be the largest memorial in United States history.”

Evans said AFWMF wanted the memorial completed as soon as possible so veterans from the era will be able to experience it.

“We can’t wait for year like the World War II memorial,” she said. “These men and women need to see it and they deserve better.”

The memorial will be placed on 20 acres of land, featuring the names of all who lost their lives in 9/11-related incidents. For more information on the memorial, or to make a donation, visit afmwf.org.

A Facebook page will feature convoy updates. Evans said the truck could be tracked via GPS during its tour, with live streaming updates from the road.