Category — Memorials
In 2013 Colonial Flag Foundation’s Healing Field® and Field of Honor® flag display events spread across the United States from Cape Cod on the Atlantic to the Big Island of Hawaii in the Pacific and from Washington State in the North to Texas on the Gulf Coast. In all 38 communities in 21 states hosted Healing Field ® and Field of Honor® programs during the year.
Over the Veterans Day weekend alone nine communities hosted Healing Field® and Field of Honor® flag displays. We were unable to visit them all, but were able to visit almost half of them, and I was privileged to visit the Healing Field display in Aurora, Illinois.
While this was Aurora’s first official Healing Field® event, the local committee demonstrated exceptional ability to plan and execute an amazing event which combined a posting of 2013 flags with the concurrent display of the Moving Wall™ Vietnam Veteran Memorial. The West Aurora High School campus provided the beautiful setting and facilities which made success possible.
Arriving on the campus, I was greeted by U.S. flags lining every street and walkway around the school. A bonus, these flags where posted not as part of the Healing Field® display, but as flags from the collection of Larry “The Flagman” Eckhart who brought them a distance of 174 miles from Little York, Illinois. Larry is well known for volunteering his labor and flags to enhance events in the Midwest, and his efforts were not wasted in Aurora.
On the east outside wall of the school’s gymnasium, I found a thirty by sixty foot U.S. flag attached to the masonry. This gigantic flag made it clear that West Aurora High is serious about displaying the flag. I later discovered a companion flag measuring twenty by forty feet displayed as a backdrop on the auditorium stage where assemblies and programs added a new dimension to event activities.
Nicknamed the City of Lights, because it was one of the first cities to install electric streetlights, Aurora appeared to me to also be the City of Flags. Even before visiting the Healing Field® display, I had encountered an abundance of flags.
I found the Moving Wall™ situated on the soccer field with a temporary stage, a temporary veterans’ memorial and a large marquee tent which served as the headquarters for the moving wall and volunteers. Attention to detail showed everywhere with potted plants and shrubs dressing the set everywhere. Even portable toilets and hand washing facilities were enhanced with potted plants. Only the display of military vehicles seemed to escape the landscaping.
A long line of visitors moved along the Wall and many searched for names among the seemingly never ending lists of casualties. Flags, flowers, notes and pictures found place at the bottom of each plaque. These were not just names, but individuals whose sacrifice affected others not only when they were killed but still today. A special program to recognize Gold Star families made clear the cost of war. Freedom, as it has been observed, is anything but free.
Moving around the school’s football stadium, I arrived at the primary goal of my visit, the Aurora Healing Field flag display. Two thousand and thirteen flags filled the football practice field. A steady wind whipped the flags out straight from their staffs in an awe-inspiring panorama of red, white and blue. The top row of the adjacent football bleachers afforded an eagle eye view of the display. Visitors to the display climbed up steep stadium steps to a vantage point which offered the reward of an amazing view.
Area schools supplied a constant stream of visitors who had been prepared by their teachers for the experience. Adding to the continual line of school buses ferrying students to the Healing Field display and the Moving Wall, cars filled available parking with more visitors.
In addition to school children, many area residents visited the Aurora Healing Field® flags. The family of Albert W. DeSotell, a 97 year old veteran of World War II, brought him to see the flag they posted on the field in his honor. Despite having served in Scotland, England, France, Luxemburg and Germany —the most beautiful sight of all for him was the Statue of Liberty he saw on his return home. Albert’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren all surrounded him for pictures at great grandpa’s flag. The flag honoring PFC Albert W. DeSotell, is but one flag of more than two thousand, and there is a story for each individual honored at Aurora’s Healing Field® display of flags.
Everything described would seem to tell the whole story of Aurora’s flags, but the list of presentations and ceremonies found in the printed program added yet another layer of excitement. Special guests, speakers, soloists, the Aurora West High A Cappella Choir and the West High Wind Symphony each contributed to activities spread over a week’s time. The one thing characteristic that defined and united them all was excellence.
A bugler sounded taps as the U.S. flag was lowered during the closing ceremony, and the flags that crowded the field have be removed, furled and presented to the sponsors. Only one question remains, when will Aurora gather again to post their next Healing Field® display of flags? They have certainly shown they know how to do it in spectacular style.
November 25, 2013 1 Comment
Utah remembers it’s heroes
On Armed Forces Day last Saturday, Utahns gathered at the State Capitol to honor Utahns who fought and who died on the battlefields of Vietnam. This being the fiftieth anniversary year of the beginning of the Vietnam War, special recognition for Utah’s Vietnam veterans appeared both appropriate and needed. We talked about this in a previous post, Armed Forces Day at Utah’s Capitol.
Governor Gary Herbert spoke to those gathered in the Capitol’s rotunda before moving to the Gold Room, the Capitol’s formal reception room, where he signed legislation impacting Utah’s veteran community. The first measure the Governor signed recognized 2013 as the fiftieth anniversary of the Vietnam War’s commencement.
After the legislation signing, the Governor joined hundreds of Utahns gathered around the Utah Vietnam Veterans Memorial located on the west lawn of the Capitol grounds where Colonial Flag Foundation had posted a formation of 364 U.S. flags to honor each Utahn killed in the Vietnam War. The display echoed the day’s motto, “One flag, one life, a million thanks.” Of course, it is not only the lives lost that we remember, but the impact each death had on family, associates and friends. The sacrifice was great and far reaching. After participants observed a moment of silence, taps sounded bringing the ceremony to a close.
Honoring veterans is something Colonial Flag does regularly and not just through the Healing Field® and Field of Honor® flag display programs. While these events scheduled all around the country each year, by themselves are significant, Colonial routinely assists families and friends of Utah’s returning service men and women by helping decorate streets with welcoming U.S. flags. These occasions are happy when military members return home at the end of deployment to the embrace of family and friends. At other somber times, the flag lined street honors Utahn who sacrificed their lives in the service of our nation. The service and sacrifice of all these Utahns honors the flag, and the flag fittingly honors them in return. Brave men and women have carried the flag into battle and the Stars & Stripes welcomes them on their return home.
Amid controversy and demonstrations, America’s veterans of the Vietnam War returned home without receiving the welcome and thanks traditionally given to the men and women who have served our nation in tie of war. The gatherings at Utah’s Capitol and Vietnam Veterans Memorial aimed to correct that lapse. Colonial Flag Company and Colonial Flag Foundation are working together to make sure that we, as a nation, do not repeat this error. Whether the service was half a century ago in Southeast Asia or yesterday in the Mideast, the men and women who serve in our armed forces deserve our welcome and thanks.
May 22, 2013 No Comments
Since its beginnings over a decade ago, the Colonial Flag Foundation has joined with numerous communities around our nation in honoring America’s veterans. Healing Field® flag displays present a touching and healing experience for volunteers and visitors alike. It is, therefore, with particular satisfaction that we join KUED and the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs in remembering and honoring Utah’s veterans of the Vietnam Conflict.
On May 18th volunteers will post 364 United States Flags—one for each Utah veteran killed during the Vietnam War—around their monument located on the Capitol building’s west lawn. Each flag has a story and represents a life lost in far away Southeast Asia. Each flag symbolized not just one person killed in war, but family and friends. As they and the surviving Vietnam Veterans have only recently received appropriate recognition for their service and sacrifices, KUED’s documentary series, “Utah Vietnam War Stories,” takes on additional significance. The era of the war brought dissent, demonstrations and controversy which denied Vietnam veterans the homecoming afforded those of other wars. The KUED documentary presents unknown stories that document the service and sacrifice of Utahns in the Vietnam War.
Join with KUED and the Colonial Flag Foundation by visiting this inspiring display of the Stars and Stripes on May 18th as we remember and honor Utahns who struggled and sacrificed in a controversial and unpopular war. These veterans and their stories deserve to be known, remembered and honored.
May 12, 2013 No Comments