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Ten thousand flags placed to honor fallen service members ahead of Memorial Day

Posted at 6:15 PM, May 24, 2022

Ten thousand flags honor the fallen outside the University of Phoenix Campus Tuesday. Each man and woman puts them into the ground, taking in the emotional moment in their own way.

“I’m just remembering all of them,” said one volunteer.

“The young men and women that serve in the military write a blank check, and that check can be cashed by any enemy at any time,” said retired Marine Kelly Cooper.

The heartfelt tribute taking place ahead of Memorial Day next week. The goal is to create a place for all to come and mourn those who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“I think about every single person who gave their life,” said Nicole Blunk through tears.

Blunk is here today for her father, currently fighting for his life after being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a cancer he got in service of his country.

“It’s from exposure to agent orange when he was in Vietnam, so this is a really important day for me,” said Blunk.

Combat Army Veteran Hayden Duff knows her pain all too well.

“I myself lost six dear friends, soldiers, battle buddies of mine on June 6, 2011, in Iraq,” said Duff.

He says not a day goes by that he doesn’t think of them and where they’d be today.

“One of my really good buddies, he was a week away from going home and celebrating his one-year anniversary with his wife. Another good buddy of mine literally just got married about six weeks beforehand on r and r,” said Duff.

These stories are a reminder of what it truly takes to be free. A selfless sacrifice made by those this memorial was created for. When seen from the air, the thousands of flags spell out the powerful phrase "Because of the Brave." One Army veteran, Rhonda Harrison, says it is more than fitting.

“I welcome their bravery and their courage every day, and I’m grateful we have people like that to serve their country and to risk their lives for the rest of us so we can be free,” said Harrison.

On Friday, the flags will be collected by the nonprofit Arizona Heroes to Hometowns and distributed at local military cemeteries ahead of Memorial Day.