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Saturday’s event to honor local Marine KIA

A fundraiser sponsored by the American Legion Post 197 and family and friends of Lance Corp. Jeffrey Walker will raise funds to memorialize his service ‘“ and giving the ultimate sacrifice for his country ‘“ at the Saturday, Aug. 24 event from 4 to 9 p.m. on the courthouse square. The fundraising event will start with a motorcycle ride from the Exit 201 TA Travel Plaza in Jackson. A car cruise organized by T-Town Toys of Thomaston will begin around 4 p.m. in downtown Zebulon as the motorcyclists arrive. Local bands will play later in the evening around the courthouse square, including Loose Change and Shakedown. The funds raised will purchase a curio cabinet to be placed in the Community Memorial Building, also known as the alternative school, to display Walker’s military memorabilia and honor his sacrifice. Members of Post 197 will sell hot dogs and hamburgers to raise funds for the memorial mural and display. ’Right now we really need the community’s support. Right after we lost him, there was a chapel in Iraq named after him, the Walker Memorial chapel. We’ve waited six years for Pike to do something in his honor. We really need the community’s support to ensure we raise the funds to do this in honor of his sacrifice and service. Freedom isn’t free and we pay a very high price for it ‘ said his mother Teresa Rutledge. ‘People get on with their lives but this is something we deal with daily. It doesn’t stop, doesn’t turn off, it doesn’t get easier, it doesn’t get better.’ Tax deductible donations may be mailed to the Pike County American Legion Post 197 at P.O. Box 781, Zebulon, 30295 or given to organizers the day of the Aug. 24 event. Checks can be made out to American Legion Post 197, with Walker Memorial on the memo line. ’We’re raising funds for a memorial to honor Lance Cpl. Walker and his sacrifice for our freedom,’ said Post 197 chaplain Ben Maxedon. ‘Please come out and join us. There will be live music, a car cruise in, a motorcycle ride in, good food and fun for the kids. So grab your lawn chair or blanket and be part of this fun filled day for a great cause.’ Walker was a 2004 graduate of Pike County High School who lost his life during his second tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine. He was 21 years old and had a 5-month-old son, Conner, when he died in the line of duty May 14, 2007 while conducting combat operations in the Al Anbar province. ’Jeffrey was in training when Conner was born in December 2006. He got to see Conner about five times before he was deployed in March 2007 and we lost him in May 2007,’ said Rutledge. ‘He loved being a dad. That little boy was his world. He couldn’t wait to get home and be Conner’s daddy and do the daddy things with him.’ The curio cabinet will be placed facing a wall on which American Legion Post 197 hopes to paint a mural in his honor. The cabinet will contain some of his belongings, including pictures, an American flag as well as pictures of Connor and items they shared an interest in. Walker’s mother said his son Conner recently entered first grade and just played his first scrimmage football game. She said it was tough knowing Conner won’t be able to share sports and other events throughout his life. ’We went to his first practice and as I left, I just had tears coming down,’ she said. ‘Jeffrey would be so proud. It’s just another event he misses out on and another even that Conner doesn’t have his daddy to be a part of. Conner is the spitting image of Jeffrey, sometimes it’s like raising him all over again. Jeffrey was a very outgoing person. You couldn’t be in a bad mood around him, he’d change that. He could put a smile on anybody’s face.’

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