‘It makes an impact.’ Flag memorial made up of over 7,000 dog tags stops in Stamford

The nonprofit Veterans & Athletes United is behind the powerful tribute, which is meant to represent the flag when draped on a fallen service member's casket.

Marissa Alter

May 11, 2023, 9:37 PM

Updated 375 days ago

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What looks from a distance like a patriotic piece of art proves to be much more up close. The massive American flag that currently sits at Veterans Park in downtown Stamford is actually a mobile memorial made up of more than 7,000 dog tags etched with the names of fallen heroes killed in the global war on terror.
The nonprofit Veterans & Athletes United is behind the powerful tribute, which is meant to represent the flag when draped on a fallen service member's casket. It’s 28 feet wide and six feet tall with 50 gold stars, honoring Gold Star Families across the nation.
“I have heard many people with astonishing gasps when they see it. We’ve been trying to get it here for about two years,” said Pat Parry, a member of the Stamford Veterans Park Partnership. Parry is also a Gold Star mom.
“My son, Chief Petty Officer Brian Bill, was a Navy SEAL who was killed on Aug. 6, 2011. He was killed in a helicopter that was shot down in Afghanistan. There were 30 men and one working military dog. Everyone was killed on that mission and they're all on that wall,” Parry said.
The names are listed alphabetically from Sept. 11, 2001-Dec. 31, 2017. After that, they’re in chronological order of when the person was killed in action. There's a different story behind each tag—a different path, a different family left grieving. But all made the same sacrifice as Parry’s son.
Bill graduated from Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford in 1997. He was an accomplished multisport athlete, an Eagle Scout and held a commercial pilot’s license when he died at the age of 31.
“He was very active. He went off to college, chose the hardest major, which was electrical engineering, simply because it was the hardest challenge. He spoke Spanish and French. He was learning Russian. He learned to fly a plane, and he did that on his own time. His next career move he told me was going to be an astronaut. But what touches me the most, absolutely the most, is the person he was,” Parry told News 12.
Looking at her son’s name on the flag, Parry said she feels a mix of emotions. “I miss Brian terribly. All of his family miss him. But I choose to look at it as a tribute and an honor to see his name.”
That pride is mixed with a profound passion to make sure people don't forget all the military members who gave their lives for our country.
“It makes an impact, and that's why we wanted it to be here—for people to see, come in the park, look at it and see the names that are up on those dog tags and remember what that means,” Parry said.
The memorial will be in Stamford until Saturday morning when it moves on to another city before heading to Washington, D.C. for Memorial Day.


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