BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

A field of 600 American flags began taking shape on Wednesday after an enthusiastic army of Mooresville/Lake Norman Exchange Club members and community volunteers assembled the flags and poles while others placed them on carefully spaced rebar on the front lawn of the Mooresville Lowe’s YMCA.

The annual Field of Flags event continues through Sunday, July 5. The club’s tent, where flags can be purchased on site, will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. The field is open to visit 24 hours per day and will be guarded during the overnight hours by four local Scout troops, who will be camping out overnight.

VIRTUAL CLOSING CEREMONY ON SUNDAY

The Field of Flags will end with a virtual closing ceremony on Sunday at noon. You can watch the event on Field of Flags Facebook page and the Mooresville/Lake Norman Exchange Club Facebook page.

The event will feature several speakers, musical performances, and the scrolling of honorees’ names (if flags are purchased by 9 p.m. on Saturday night). Those interested can also still purchase flags online at https://www.mooresvillelknexchange.org/flag.

OPENING REMARKS

The work to display the flags began after a brief ceremony for about 60 socially distanced volunteers, led by Exchange Club President Beth Packard, who thanked local veterans, community members, families, and YMCA staff who help make the event possible.

“This event brings people together. We do this to make our community a better place to live,” she said.

Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, also an Exchange Club member, said, “On behalf of the Town of Mooresville and the town commissioners, I want to thank the Mooresville/Lake Norman Exchange Club for putting on the Field of Flags.”

“It’s a healing field. It’s an opportunity for the community to come together and experience something that’s really very moving and emotional. If you haven’t experienced it, it’s something that really leaves a lasting impact on our community.”

“This is quite an example of what Mooresville’s all about — this community spirit where people come together for the greater good, and I want to thank each and every one of you on behalf of the town for volunteering.”

Also speaking was John Hedly, a Vietnam War veteran and president of the nonprofit Welcome Home Veterans Living History Museum at Richard’s Coffee Shop in Mooresville.

“I really appreciate the patriotism and love of country that you all demonstrate all the time, particularly during this current time when there are organizations and people out there who are working overtime to destroy the very fabric of this republic and are probably working for an overthrow of our government.”

“To get back to old-fashioned patriotism, love of country, love of flag — it makes me feel good.”

Exchange Club member Cotton Ketchie led a prayer, saying that “we love our country, we love our freedom, and we love the American flag.” He also thanked God for the many service members and the sacrifices they made and for the blessings bestowed on this country.

At the end the brief ceremony, Packard, Atkins, and Hedley placed the first three flags on the field.

Representatives of the Mooresville Police Department was also on hand to support the event, as were Mooresville Fire-Rescue personnel, who hung their giant flag on the front of the YMCA facility.

MANY THANKS

After the ceremony, Packard thanked event chair Kim Saragoni, main sponsor BestCo and the many other organizations and businesses that support the event, which was put together in only six weeks when the club was offered the Lowe’s YMCA space for the 4th of July weekend after the cancellation of its traditional fireworks and activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Packard became emotional describing the event’s meaning, which is to thank all the heroes of our community, including honoring military service members as well the first responders and healthcare workers who toiled at the forefront of this pandemic.

Atkins said he was thrilled that the event, delayed from its traditional Memorial Day weekend timeframe, was able to proceed this weekend. “It’s going to be emotional and inspiring — something that’s a real asset to our community.”

The mayor said he is proud to be a member of the Exchange Club. “It’s the most patriotic organization. It’s what makes our community so great.”

LIBERTY PARK PAVERS PROJECT

The Exchange Club is also holding a Liberty Park Brick Paver project through July 6. The pavers will be installed in the promenade area of the park.

The multi-phased renovation is being conducted through a partnership of the Town of Mooresville and the Exchange Club of Mooresville/Lake Norman to create the Veterans Promenade and art installation.

One Promenade area will focus on a Bricks for The Veterans Promenade to honor those related to the military (honoring a veteran, a branch of service, or other military-related).

Bricks for The General Promenade can be related to anything the purchaser wishes, such as a family or children’s name, business, or pet.

The pavers are available in two sizes and will be engraved with the buyer’s preferred sentiment or logo.

To purchase a brick, visit https://www.mooresvillelknexchange.org/buybrick.

INTERESTED IN EXCHANGE CLUB?

Packard said the club is currently meeting virtually but invites those interested to visit the organization’s website and send a message to be included on the next Zoom meeting.

The Exchange Club focuses on three areas of service: Americanism, Youth Programs, and Community Service as well as the National Project: Child Abuse Prevention. Locally, the club is comprised of diverse members, from business professionals to community leaders to retired individuals.

Packard said the club has continued to be busy throughout the last three months of pandemic restrictions, holding a least six projects per month, including conducting food drives and rendering other assistance to aid those in need in the community.

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