A Field of Flags for Healing and Honor in divided times

by Dennis Anderson, special to Aerotech News
In a time of national division over politics and policing, the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on lives and economy, it’s worth a salute and a shout-out the City of Palmdale for bringing the “Healing and Honor Field” to Pelona Vista Park to run from Nov. 1 through Nov. 11.

For the past decade-plus, in the week leading up to Veterans Day, Palmdale has hosted the Antelope Valley Mobile Vietnam Veterans Memorial, most often in the Palmdale Amphitheater at Marie Kerr Park. But the conditions of COVID-19 have ruled out crowds of the size that rallied to the AV Wall until a safer time.

We have more challenges than ever bringing people together, with the pandemic keeping friends and family at a distance, and with troubles of the moment threatening to divide us.
The “Healing and Honor Field” is designed to bring people together.

With the Palmdale City Council’s backing, City Manager J.J. Murphy organized a project he had seen lift spirits in Pennsylvania. The “Healing and Honor Field” features 2,020 of our nation’s flags — the Stars and Stripes — each atop 7 1/2 foot poles in ordered rows, “creating a massive vista of red, white and blue that is an experience hard to describe, and not to be forgotten,” the city says. “Each flag will tell a story and honor those who, by their dedicated service, have become our heroes.”

Murphy is a retired Air Force major who deployed in the Global War on Terror, and Mayor Steve Hofbauer is a retired firefighter-paramedic, both still serving in a different fashion.

“In Pennsylvania, along with the American flags, there were flags for all the allies that joined us after 9/11,” Palmdale City Manager J.J. Murphy said. “You saw the flags of the United Kingdom, France, and all the allies that joined with us. Altogether, more than 3,000 flags and it was inspiring.”

And we could use some inspiration right now.

Pelona Vista Park is at 37800 Tierra Subida Avenue in Palmdale, and is visible from the Antelope Valley Freeway driving south between Palmdale Boulevard and Avenue S. The 11-day run of the Field of Honor will be visible from the highway, more than 2,000 American flags.

The flags will have on-site security, and be open daily for visits from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. under safety guidelines.

The park offers a wonderful vista, because it has an upper level parking lot atop a hill that sweeps gently down to the park that is often used for soccer matches in happier times.

Stacia Nemeth chairs the Palmdale Planning Commission, is a Blue Star Mother, and also serves on the AV Wall Committee. She said there will be opportunities for volunteering for the project, and people make can contact by visiting www.cityofpalmdale.org and www.healingfield.org/event/palmdale20/.

The purchased flags will have messages affixed by their purchasers to honor those serving, or who have served in the military, or law enforcement, fire/EMT, or medical personnel, the health care heroes delivering care. At the end of the Honor Field run, after Nov. 11, Veterans Day, the flags can be retrieved and brought home by their owners.

These proud Old Glory banners will be available for purchase at $30. Proceeds from flag sales will benefit Antelope Valley veterans’ service groups, including Vets4Veterans, Coffee4Vets, Point Man AV, American Legion 348 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3000. If interested in buying a flag that supports the activities of these groups, also visit www.healingfield.org/event/palmdaleca20/.

We have a lot of disagreement in America, more than any time since, say, 1968 amid the Vietnam War and assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, and Sen. Robert Kennedy, or the Civil War a century earlier. Still, most Americans, can agree on a few things, including support for veterans, our active duty troops, our first responders who put their lives on the line, and people putting their own health at risk to deliver our healthcare and healing.

Among the volunteers assisting the project are Paul and Lisa Kinison, publishers of Aerotech News and Review. The city offered me the privilege to serve as honorary chair for the committee. My own sense is that the organizations that will benefit from flag sales have done more ground-work to support veterans in our local communities, and are worthy of the city’s support, and the citizens of the Antelope Valley.

Editor’s note: Dennis Anderson is a licensed clinical social worker at High Desert Medical Group. An Army veteran, he deployed with local National Guard troops as embedded journalist to cover the Iraq War with California National Guard troops from the Antelope Valley. He works on veterans and community mental health initiatives.

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