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A Walk to Remember

Participants in the America Supports You Freedom Walk march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Pentagon to commemorate Sept. 11 victims.
Participants in the America Supports You Freedom Walk march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Pentagon to commemorate Sept. 11 victims. (Photos By Carol Guzy -- The Washington Post)

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By Michael E. Ruane and Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, September 10, 2007

Margaret Young walked for her son, Edmond, who was killed in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, at the age of 22.

Retired Army Sgt. Sean Lewis walked on his artificial right leg, which replaced the limb he lost to an enemy mortar in Iraq three years ago.

And Ray "The Flag Man" DeFrees walked with the $5 American flag he bought in a supermarket after Sept. 11. He has padded the staff with insulation and loves to let others feel what it's like to carry the Stars and Stripes.

They were among thousands of marchers who joined the Defense Department's third annual America Supports You Freedom Walk yesterday, held to remember the victims of Sept. 11 and to honor those in uniform.

The participants, most wearing special white "Freedom Walk" T-shirts, assembled at the Lincoln Memorial and stepped off to the strains of a John Philip Sousa march at 9:15 a.m. for the mile-and-a-half walk to the Pentagon.

The event was one of two scheduled locally to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Later in the day, about 800 people strolled down the sidewalk on the northeast side of Massachusetts Avenue NW for the 9/11 Unity Walk, an annual effort by more than 100 churches, temples, synagogues and embassies to recall what the program said was "the spirit of togetherness" that grew from the attacks. It was coordinated by the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

Many unity walkers wore bright green T-shirts as they went from the Washington Hebrew Congregation, paused at the Islamic Center and wound up at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Massachusetts Avenue and 21st Street NW.

"We are displaying unity to spread the message of peace," said Ragha Raghavan, a retired banker and member of the Association of United Hindu and Jain Temples.

"As you walk, please talk," the program advised. "Allow your dialogue to open avenues within yourself and with others."

One hundred eighty-four people died at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, not including five terrorists who were aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 when it was flown into the building: 125 died inside, and 59 passengers and crew members were killed on the airliner.

The marches were held under bright, sunny skies but in hot and humid walking weather.

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