In Memory of the Fallen

On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, the city of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, was mourning the loss of one of its own. Despite their sadness, they wanted to celebrate the life and contributions of U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, who was one of five servicemen killed in the July 16, 2015 shooting in nearby Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Local digital operator, The ADvantage of Advertising, was already running memorial pieces on all of the victims on their digital billboards, so when the city asked them to freeze one of their units along the funeral procession for Petty Officer Smith, they didn’t hesitate to agree. The route went from the church where the service was held through town to the nearby interstate, then on to the military burial site in Chattanooga.  The billboard was located at the top of the hill about a mile and a half from the church.

An image honoring Petty Officer Smith remained fixed on the billboard for two and a half hours that day.  Immediately past this display, the Fort Oglethorpe Fire Department had two ladder trucks extended, spanning the road with a display of a very large American flag.  The funeral procession went on for miles. For the city, it was important that Petty Officer Smith’s widow and their children in the lead limousine were able to see this tribute as they proceeded up the hill.

Hundreds of people lined the road on both sides of the procession. The city was sending a clear message to Petty Officer Smith’s three young daughters that the city mourned with them. The display was created with the hope that the tribute image of their father could be etched in their memories, along with the memory of the way the city of Fort Oglethorpe, where they will grow up without him, wished to honor him on that day and in that way.

(Photo credit: Bryan Perry, City of Fort Oglethorpe)