One thousand flags can be found rippling in the wind on Merced College’s front lawn in memory of both veterans and first responders who have served to protect Americans. The Merced Sunrise Rotary Club is following a national trend by creating their first annual Field of Honor, available for viewing until Veteran’s Day.
The concept for a Field of Honor was conceived 12 years ago when Paul Swenson, the president of a flag company, wanted to honor the lives lost in the 9-11 tragedy by flying a flag for every life taken, coining it the Healing Field. Since 2001, the campaign has become known as the Field of Honor and continues to represent hope and healing in communities across the country, expanding to signify a variety of issues.
Merced Sunrise Rotary’s Field of Honor is available for public viewing 24 hours a day until Monday, when it will be deconstructed. The presentation is lit at night and security is present to maintain the integrity of the field. There is also an informational booth available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help those who have purchased flags identify the location of their flag. Each 6 foot flag is flown in honor of a specific veteran or first responder.
“It is incredibly touching to read the stories and see the personal memorabilia that people have attached to their flag,” said Anne Newins, a member of Merced Sunrise Rotary.
Flags are for sale for $35 dollars each and customers can pay an extra $15 to have the Merced Sunrise Rotary Club store the flag until it will be flown next year. As of Wednesday, over 800 flags had been purchased and the club anticipates selling the rest of the flags by Veteran’s Day.
Newins attributes the success of their first annual Field of Honor to the community support that the Merced Sunrise Rotary Club has received.
“Although Sunrise Rotary started this, it is really a community activity. We had an opening ceremony on Monday and there were hundreds of people. We’ve really received good support from community groups, service clubs, and veterans,” said Newins.
The proceeds from the Field of Honor will go towards a local charity for veterans.