Flag display to honor 9/11 victims, vets
HUNTINGTON — A two-acre field at Spring Hill Cemetery will be covered with thousands of American flags beginning Friday, Sept. 7.
For the second consecutive year, the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District is hosting the Healing Fields, a memorial to those who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and a tribute to veterans. The five-day event also will serve as a fundraiser to build a bell tower at the cemetery.
Last year’s inaugural Healing Fields was so overpowering that it was an easy decision to bring it back this year, Park District Director Kevin Brady said.
“I never really understood the magnitude of what it was before we had it here last year,” Brady said. “But when you walk through a field of more than 3,000 large American flags that have been placed in rows, it really is a powerful experience. I literally saw people get out of their cars, fall to their knees and sob last year."
The Park District sold approximately 3,200 American flags last year. Each 3-by-5-foot flag is attached to an 8-foot-tall pole and includes a certificate. Flags that are purchased — they cost $35 each — are used in the Healing Field, but their owners can pick them up afterward.
Fifteen dollars from each flag sold will go back to the park district, which helps coordinate the event and covers the up-front cost of the flags. Another $15 will go toward the construction of a bell tower. The remaining $5 will go to either postage and shipping costs or to civic groups that want to sell flags on the park district’s behalf.
Those who purchased a flag last year can also place their flag in the Healing Field this year for a cost of $15, Brady said.
Last year’s Healing Field raised $68,000 for the bell tower, which will be constructed next to the grave marker of Dr. Paul Ambrose at the cemetery. He died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when the plane he was aboard hit the Pentagon. Ambrose had been working at the national level to fight the obesity epidemic.
The 31-foot-tall bell tower will cost about $105,000 to build, Brady said. That includes a 500-pound solid bronze bell that will have four pictures etched on it. The pictures will be of the Marshall Memorial at Spring Hill Cemetery, the Healing Field, the Veterans Memorial Arch and the Pentagon insignia.
Ken and Sharon Ambrose, Paul Ambrose’s parents, will dedicate the bell and ring it for the first time during the second half of the Marshall football game Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, Brady said.
The Healing Field will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, through Tuesday, Sept. 11. Flags are now available for purchase and will remain on sale through the end of the Healing Field on Tuesday, Brady said.
For more information about purchasing flags, becoming an event sponsor or volunteering at the cemetery, call Tracey Knight at 304-696-5954 or go to www.healingfield.org/huntington12.