Touring exhibit honoring fallen soldiers returns to Omaha for Septemberfest

"Remembering Our Fallen" is a traveling exhibit that made a stop in Omaha for Septemberfest on Monday.
Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In the midst of concert music and carnival rides, the “Remembering Our Fallen” exhibit provided a serious presence with a display of Americans who have fallen in the line of duty since the attacks on September 11, 2001.

“It’s been on the road for over five years,” said David Luton, a national representative for the Omaha-based Patriotic Productions. “It’s been from San Diego to Boston to Tampa Bay to Portland, Oregon, and all places in between.”

Luton said 5,394 Americans are honored in the exhibit, but that represents only 70-75 percent of the men and women they plan to include in the future.

He keeps a detailed book of all the names who have died in service to the United States since the 9/11 attacks.

At Omaha’s Septemberfest over Labor Day weekend, hundreds - maybe more - paid respects, including friends, families, and veterans themselves.

“It helps them recover from the loss and from the time they served,” Luton said.

Arranged in rows allowing for privacy and comfort to those exploring the exhibit, 34 towers, each with three double-sided banners, shared brief stories of the fallen service members from every state.

Remembering Our Fallen is the name of the exhibit, but it’s not just their names that leave impressions. Besides the photos showing faces and families, the exhibit also displays their ages, hometowns, and how they lost their lives.

One man from Falls City said he and his wife came to honor the son of a friend.

”It’s unbelievable,” he said. “You just can’t believe it, you know somebody that young.”

Another man privately contemplated a cousin whose photo he found among the panels. He said he’s still processing the death of his 18-year-old relative several years after he died in the line of duty.

Luton, who served in the Marine Corps from 1978 to 1987, calls it his duty to unfurl these presentations across the country.

As the sun was setting on the close of Septemberfest, he and a group of workers were carefully storing each set of banners into their large trailer, with the next stop in New Jersey’s Wantage Township, 1,300 miles away.