Unique Memorial Honoring Past and Present Soldiers

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Boots lined Kansas Avenue downtown today - combat boots - each bearing the photo of a military hero who fought, or is still fighting for our country.

Every picture has its own story.

The Jamie Jarboe Foundation set up this living memorial. It's a reminder to those strolling down Kansas Avenue today to remember soldiers past and present.

Melissa Jarboe, founder of the Jamie Jarboe Foundation, said she knew there was something she could do to raise awareness of the struggles soldiers face.

"With the Jamie Jarboe Foundation, we're going out an impacting those soldiers. We're taking time to say 'we love you, we support you, we're here for you,'" Jarboe said. "And one of those things [my husband] said is he wants to see support for his soldiers. Not to wait until they get wounded or die, but the active duty, the veterans, that deserve that respect and admiration."

The story of Sergeant Jamie Jarboe captured the hearts of people in Kansas and across the nation. He died a year after a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan left him paralyzed. It inspired his wife, Melissa, to carry out his wish to "care for his soldiers."

Melissa wants everyone to know that all soldiers need support whether they're still here - or not.

"I think Americans care about our soldiers, I just don't think they have an outlet to show that compassion and care and support," Melissa said. "Having this out here, we've had a lot of people come up and they can show they care and say, 'how can we help?'"

The memorial received an outpouring of support from people walking down the street, including families who have soldiers overseas themselves.

For Kristi Wischnack, seeing the memorial was important.

"I think it's a wonderful tribute to our men and women that serve our country and give us the freedoms we have," Wischnack said. "I get a little emotional because my husband and my son are both in the active service."

Melissa's - and every other citizen's - efforts are not over with the memorial today.

"We're honoring our military with America's support and we're giving them all the love they can take," she said. "We're not stopping until they get it."

Tax-deductible donations are always accepted, to help out other military families. Donations can be sent to the Jamie Jarboe Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Jamie Jarboe Foundation
P.O. Box 3926
Topeka, Kansas 66604