Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Safford City Councilman and retired Marine Richard Ortega stands in front of the Field of Honor.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – Starting early Saturday morning, volunteers with the Safford Lions Club began pounding in poles to hold the 250 American flags that will fly on the Safford City Hall lawn all week in remembrance of Veterans Day.
Each flag pays tribute to an individual veteran or active service member with their name, rank, and conflict participation listed on a tag attached to the flagpole. The event was organized by Safford City Manager and Lions Club member Horatio Skeete.
On Saturday afternoon, Luis Lopez and his wife reverently strolled through the field. Lopez’s two sons are in active duty with the Army and Marines and his wife’s brother is a retired Marine.
“We were up here shopping and stuff, so we decided to come by and look at it,” Lopez said. “We wanted to check it out and come take pictures of it.”
Safford City Councilman and retired Marine Richard Ortega was also spotted at the field. He encouraged the public to come down and see the display for themselves.
“It’s for the veterans today, the ones who came before us and the ones who will be coming after us,” Ortega said. Thank you to the Lions Club for all the effort they put into it and the committees and all the people who have worked so hard; all I can say is God bless America and thank God that they (veterans) are keeping us free.”
Jon Johnson Video/Gila Herald
Throughout the morning and into the early afternoon, booths from the Safford Lions Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Swift Murphy Post 32, and the National Guard were set up outside the Graham County Courthouse near the Veterans Memorial display and were giving out information and swag.
The Field of Honor display will be up for the week and the Safford Lions Club will be selling flags in front of the Graham County Courthouse on Monday for $35 each. Anyone who purchases a flag may fly it at next year’s event for $10.
On Monday, there will also be a Veterans Day Parade down Main Street in Safford, lining up at 9:30 a.m., and a Veterans Day ceremony will take place outside of the courthouse afterward until about 11:30 a.m.
For more on the Safford Field of Honor, visit its Facebook page here.
“In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae as recited by Leonard Cohen