Dennis Anderson

DENNIS ANDERSON

Easy Company

The thousand American flags that you can see, either up close and personal, or all the way from the Antelope Valley Freeway, is called the “Field of Honor and Healing.” 

There is a lot of honor in those flags and we could all use a bit of healing. The field, with its 1,000 flags, hosts an opening ceremony at 2 p.m., Sunday, at Pelona Vista Park in Palmdale. The flags will fly until Memorial Day, May 30. 

The City of Palmdale has been selling American flags at $30, for weeks now, and some remain available at www.CityofPalmdale.org/HealingField 

The driving concept is that a flag you purchase has a printed streamer on it that honors someone you know who served in the military or served the nation as law enforcement, fire services, medical or a first responder. 

The field is an encore to a similar demonstration of pride that Palmdale organized during the pandemic year of 2020, with 2,020 flags flying. Intended as a moment of relief amid the worst months of the pandemic, it was an authentic morale booster. Hundreds turned out for the opening and closing ceremonies and thousands could see the flags from a distance. 

The flag, after all, is a symbol of American resilience, patriotism from the heart and our aspirations to be the best people and nation we can be. It can be a tough slog, but it is what people of good will strive to realize.  

At Sunday’s opening ceremony, representatives from a half-dozen veterans service and support organizations will share a few words with all who turn out for the event, which is open to the public. 

Speakers include Michael Bertell, for Point Man Antelope Valley, a faith-based group that helps veterans talk about the stuff that followed them home from war. He served with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Carl Hernandez, Air Force veteran of Vietnam, will speak for the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans’ organization. Chaplain Fred Villa and Matt Jackson will speak for the Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Quartz Hill and Palmdale. 

Iraq veteran Richard Casper will speak for the Antelope Valley Veterans Community Action Coalition and Afghanistan veteran John Parsamyan will speak on behalf of the Vets4Veterans nonprofit volunteer group. Iraq vet Mayra Duarte and Marine vet Tony Tortolano will join Coffee4vets President Juan Blanco. Closing remarks are from Stacia Nemeth, the event volunteer coordinator and Blue Star mother of an Air Force captain.

The speaker line-up represents the volunteers doing work on behalf of veterans, helping them get housing, jobs, to move ahead with education and training and to make sure people who served the nation do not go hungry or without shelter. It happens. Too many veterans face homelessness, joblessness, substance abuse or mental health challenges connected to their service. 

That said, veterans are resilient, many are successful and like the speakers and groups, make a point of helping the brothers and sisters they served with. The speakers have served in wars both hot and cold, in every clime and place. 

They all swore an oath and offered their lives as a blank check that the nation might just cash, in time of war or the brush fires we call “peace keeping.” 

The Palmdale Auto Mall Association sponsored many of the flags. Proceeds of the sales will go to the local organizations working on behalf of veterans. 

If you attend Sunday’s ceremony, you will see many who answered the nation’s call and gave us their best. 

 

Dennis Anderson is a licensed clinical social worker at High Desert Medical Group. A paratrooper in the Army, he works on veterans’ issues and community health initiatives. 

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