1,000 Flags Remembers Sacrifices For Freedoms

The west lawn of the Mesquite Recreation Center was a sight to behold last week as the 1000 Flags Field of Honor event took place from Sunday, Nov. 7 – Sunday Nov. 14.

The annual event is hosted by The Exchange Club of Mesquite to honor U.S. military veterans and servicemen for their sacrifice for the nation’s freedoms.

The view was especially impressive at night when the whole field of flags was brilliantly lit against the dark sky. Volunteers watched over the field in shifts both day and night throughout the week-long event.
A special Veterans Day ceremony was held on Thursday evening, Nov. 11.

In attendance at the ceremony was U.S. Congressman Steven Horsford who spoke at the event.
“The city of Mesquite celebrates Veterans Day like few others, not only in Nevada but across the nation,” Horsford said to the gathered crowd on Thursday night. “I always enjoy attending the Veterans Day services here. I love them!”

Exchange Club President Paul Benedict led the evening service. Benedict reminded attendees that, in years past, Congressman Horsford had presented the club with a special flag that had flown over the White House on Veterans Day of 2013. That flag has been used as the lead flag in the 1000 Flags event each year since, Benedict said.

The ceremony was short but had a large attendance. Horsford gave a brief update on services that his staff offer to local residents; especially veterans. “My office is always available to help veterans with issues,” he said.

Terry & Ouida Madison were first time attendees of the ceremony. They expressed enthusiasm about the program.
“This is just awesome!” Ouida said. “It was far above all expectations. It is really best to see it in person.”

Throughout the week, area residents as well as visitors to Mesquite could make a stop at the Field of Honor to see this impressive sight.

According to Benedict, more flags were sponsored in this year’s fundraising event than any other year before.

On Sunday afternoon, November 14, a closing ceremony was held to end the event. Benedict again led the ceremony.

This patriotic event featured speaker, Steve Reynolds, US Navy veteran, a musical selection sung by the MUMC Sextet and a flag retirement ceremony.

Mesquite Fire and Rescue called upon family and retired veterans to help properly retire an American Flag. A speaker explained that the U.S. Flag Code requires that a flag which is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning and thus retired in a respectful manner.”

The Speaker continued, “for many millions of people throughout our nation’s glorious history, our flag has stood tall as a monument to freedom for all Americans. Men and women have given their lives for the flag, fought for the flag and cried for the flag and revered it as a symbol of the greatest country on earth.”

As this text was read, the selected group held the flag and gently cut it into red and white strips and a section of stars in preparation to be placed in a fire.

The red strips of the flag, that stand for courage, were added to the fire first. The white strips, which represent purity, were next. And lastly, the stars section that represent each state in the union; as well as vigilance, perseverance and justice; was added to the flames.

Each section of flag was escorted to the fire by a veteran. As the flames rose, US Marine Corps veteran Ron Bird played ‘Taps’ on his bugle as the attendees placed their hands over their hearts or saluted.

The ceremony closed with a beautiful benediction offered by Pastor Craig Janson of River Valley Bible Church.

In his prayer Janson said, “Lord you know intimately and exactly all of the personal stories that these flags in this very peaceful field represent. You know the personal stories of those who have been in fields of battle, fields of chaos and away from loved ones. My prayer is that we who enjoy the blessings of this nation would empathize with those who have served and preserved those blessings and… that we will be able to show that empathy to those who have served through our actions.”

Piper Dennis Hangey, in full Scottish Regalia, offered the final tribute performing Amazing Grace on his bagpipes. He slowly made his way from among the audience and into the display of flags, walking in between the patriotic rows of read white and blue. As his song faded to a close, he too, faded from view.