This year’s Memorial Day celebration just got 200 times more patriotic.
Medford’s Sunrise Rotary Club is planning to erect more than 200 American flags in Freedom Park for the first-ever “Burlington County’s Field of Honor” during the town’s Memorial Day ceremonies.
The local club is part of a worldwide Rotary community that participates in humanitarian initiatives with a commitment to its motto, “Service Above Self.”
At a cost of $50 per flag, members of the public can sponsor anyone who has served in the military, first responders, teachers, or any person who has used “Service Above Self” to enhance the lives of others.
Any proceeds remaining after the “Field of Honor” will be contributed by the Sunrise Rotary to organizations that advance peace or serve veterans.
Medallions will be placed on each flag with details on the nominated hero and will be readable from a central directory. Sponsors will be able to keep the personalized medallion after the event.
Although this is South Jersey’s first “Field of Honor,” the event began years ago as a community project to help citizens grasp the concept of the number of lives lost on September 11, 2001. Since then, Rotary Clubs across the nation have staged their own “Fields of Honor” to acknowledge those who have demonstrated the club’s motto.
The local club decided to add something new to the ceremony. Between the memorials and the field of flags, representatives of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, MIA, Police and Fire will carry flags of their service to be placed in a “Heroes Circle.”
The event is also asking residents who may not have a personal “hero” to sponsor one or more of the 70 men who died in the military during the first World War. Some of those men were as young as 18 years old with causes of death ranging from disease to battle wounds.
“Some just move you to tears,” said David Forward, a member of Medford’s Sunrise Rotary Club.
A personalized medallion with the hero’s name and service details will be attached to a flag and the donor’s name will show as the sponsor.
Other sponsorship opportunities are available for local businesses, for donations ranging from $250 to $5,000. A business can sponsor a certain number of flags, depending on the donation, and will be put on the Rotary Club’s website as a corporate sponsor.
Forward hopes people in the community might be able to recognize the names on the medallions as one of their neighbors, giving them inspiration to serve.
The 3-foot by 5-foot flags will be erected by Rotary members on Friday, May 24 on 8-foot poles in symmetrical rows. An opening ceremony will be begin at 10 a.m. on May 25. The flags will remain in the park for a full week until June 1.
In addition, Freedom Park will also be hosting other ceremonies during this event, including the dedication of two new war memorials honoring Burlington County residents who died in service during WWII and the Korean War, along with a Battlefield Cross sculpture.
Those who want to sponsor a flag can visit www.healingfield.org/medford19.
Those interested in sponsorships should call Tom Wolff at (609) 284-4440 or email FieldOfHonorMedford@gmail.com.