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Patriots Peace Memorial honors often ‘forgotten’ fallen military

Published: May. 31, 2021 at 7:42 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When active-duty Air Force pilot Brice Simpson died during a training flight accident in Japan, his family had trouble finding a memorial where he could be honored, until Patriots Peace Memorial was founded.

“I’ve been in military 26 years total, there’s not a place if you haven’t died in combat or a lot of other locations, it’s hard to be memorialized,” Grant Simpson, Brice’s brother, said. “This gives everybody a place to come.”

Patriots Peace Memorial was erected to honor military men and women who died outside of combat, like Brice Simpson. His name was the first to be etched into a glass brick on the memorial.

Now, there are 456 other names in the memorial.

“It’s supposed to be a guiding light at night, unfortunately when all the bricks are filled,” Simpson said of the memorial’s design.

Monday’s addition was one step closer.

Sgt. First Class Michael Longest’s name was added to the memorial on Memorial Day. The Marine, Navy sailor, Army soldier and Purple Heart recipient died of a heart attack during pre-deployment training in 2003.

“When you look at the names etched in this memorial, you cannot tell race, you cannot tell religion, or place of origin where they were born,” Lt. Col Charles McLaurine, Retired USMC and chairman of Patriots Peace Memorial committee said. “Simply they were all committed in the defense of our nation, in the defense of democracy and in defense of our way of life.”

In addition, the memorial’s founders, David and Betty Jones who died in 2019 were honored with a memorial tree dedication.

“They didn’t care so much about the recognition for themselves but they would’ve been very happy that there was a ceremony honoring somebody and all these people showed up to see that,” Dan Jones, David and Betty’s son said.

“People who are killed in action is something people are aware of, people that die in service, most people aren’t aware of,” Dan Jones, David and Betty’s son said. “I think it was a way to recognize something that’s very important; even training in the military is a very dangerous exercise, and that’s what you see in this memorial.”

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