July 14, 2009
WAPAKONETA ‚?? American flags sprinkled the grounds of the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum on Monday afternoon ‚?? 501 flags to be exact.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the moon landing and in honor of those who have served the United States as members of the police, fire and military services, the first Tri-County Field of Honor is being held this week.
The weeklong celebration began Monday morning with an opening ceremony. At 6 p.m. Monday there was music and speakers, as well as the reading of all 501 honored names.
The idea for Field of Honor took root in October when project co-chairs, Stephanie Carnes and Becky Macwhinney, teamed together.
‚??I‚??m a Girl Scout leader and I wanted to show them the meaning behind flags and proper flag etiquette,‚?Ě Carnes said. ‚??There are people behind the flags who have sacrificed and younger generations don‚??t realize that.‚?Ě
Carnes said originally she wanted to place the flags around the Wapakoneta Courthouse but Macwhinney, who is director of the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum, suggested tying in the moon landing‚??s anniversary.
‚??It‚??s important to give back to the community,‚?Ě Carnes said.
To sponsor a flag in someone‚??s honor, the cost was $30. The proceeds go toward the Girl Scouts of Auglaize County, the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum, local veterans organizations and the Boys Scouts of America.
Master of ceremony Ralph Reynolds said this is not a solemn event but a celebration of all those who have served the United States.
‚??We want to give thanks to them for doing their often thankless job,‚?Ě Reynolds said.
As for the anniversary of Neil Armstrong‚??s walk on the moon, Reynolds said Wapakoneta is proud and just a little biased for the history a local resident made.
‚??Armstrong was a hero and phenomenal figure from our community but he‚??s not our only hero,‚?Ě Macwhinney said. ‚??Those behind the flags are our true heroes.‚?Ě
A group of three Boy Scouts led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Also a group of three girls donning matching patriotic outfits sang Lee Greenwood‚??s ‚??Proud to be an American.‚?Ě
Joe Otte, spokesman for state Sen. Keith Faber, spurred applause from the crowd when he said that despite rumors of the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum being in jeopardy of losing funding that was not a possibility.
Dorothy Locker, president of American Gold Star Mothers, shared the story of her son, James Locker, with the crowd. Her son served in the Vietnam War as a pararescue jumper where he was killed in action. His body wasn‚??t found until 35 years later.
‚??The Gold Star Mothers wear white as a sign of peace, sacrifice and goodness,‚?Ě Locker said. ‚??It‚??s a privilege to be here honoring those who served.‚?Ě
Members of Gold Star Members have all lost a child serving in the military.
Tim Clark, from Menomonie, Wis., was traveling through the area and stopped at the Field of Honor.
‚??It‚??s very cool that they take the time and effort to do something patriotic,‚?Ě Clark said. ‚??It‚??s good for local heritage to tie in Neil Armstrong.‚?Ě