2,600 crosses honor U.S. war dead in Modesto

A display of 2,600 crosses and seven billboards with the names of military personnel who died in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq will be on display beginning Sunday at Modesto Christian School in north Modesto.

Displayed in chronological order of deaths, the "Freedom Isn't Free" memorial includes names of military men and women and their ranks. The local Support Our Troops organization will put special ribbons on service members from the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

The display began at an East Coast church in 2007 and has moved across the country.

No one has asked for it since Neighborhood Church, which meets at its school campus, had the display up last May, said Lance Lowell, associate pastor.

So it was up to the church to add the names of the U.S. soldiers killed in the conflicts during the past year — 386 in Afghanistan and 113 in Iraq.

The display will be open 24 hours a day through Memorial Day.

"This brings the seriousness of Memorial Day into focus," Lowell said.

Besides the display, the church will have a special service May 30 honoring all military personnel as well as people serving in law enforcement, fire and emergency services. The service will be followed by a free barbecue and family activities.

For more information, call 529-8900.