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'Field of Flags' offers place to honor veterans

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

October 21. 2016 11:02PM
The “Field of Flags” at the Rock Church in Plaistow honors all veterans, past and present. (Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent)

PLAISTOW — A two-acre field covered by 5,000 American flags at a local church is now a moving sea of red, white and blue.

The “Field of Flags” has returned to the Rock Church to honor all of the nation’s veterans as part of a tradition that began five years ago.

It took about 90 minutes for nearly 200 volunteers to plant the flags last weekend for the patriotic display that will be open to public viewing until Dec. 1.

The field at 90 Newton Road was planted for the first time in 2011 to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 as a tribute to the thousands of veterans who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this year the church took a different approach. The tags that once carried the names of those fallen servicemen and women who died since 9/11 have been removed to create a field that honors all veterans past and present as an extension of the church’s Veterans Day service on Nov. 13.

The field draws regular visitors who stop by to quietly observe, walk through the rows of flags, and take photos.

This year, organizers hope people will also come to escape the divisive presidential election season.

“In many ways it seems like we’re divided as a nation. It’s one way to unify us,” said Steve Murray, pastor of Rock Church Ministries, which has churches in Plaistow, Sandown and Amesbury, Mass.

The field is a quiet place where visitors can pause to reflect on the veterans who have fought for freedom and what the American flag represents.

“I certainly would encourage people who are feeling a little overwhelmed or discouraged by our current election season to come and take some time and be mindful that we’re blessed to live in this nation,” Murray said. “We have great freedoms and I think it’s a nice time to be reminded of all that is good about our country and our heritage and those who have helped create it and defend it.”

Dave Peabody, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, is a member of the church who helped plant the flags.

He said it’s important for people to see the field and be reminded of the sacrifices made by members of the military. It’s especially important for young people, he said.

“I think this is something that we as a community should do in respect for all of these men and women that have fought for our country and those that have lost their lives and have given us the right to do what we can do now and the opportunity to be free. Freedom is really hard to come by,” he said.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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