In 2010, the Exchange Club of Greater Newburyport began an annual traditional known as its Field of Honor.
The Club’s Field of Honor began to commemorate veterans, active members of the military, and first responders who were killed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and the airliner crash in a field in Pennsylvania.
However, in the wake of the devastation caused by the coronavirus, the Exchange Club is using this year’s Field of Honor to honor COVID-19 heroes instead.
“This time, it’s a different type of heroes that people will be honoring– it could be a teacher, or anyone really, who is a hero in their lives,” explained event co-chair Mike Viccaro. “It’s been just amazing the sacrifices people have made.”
More Than 300 American Flags Commemorate COVID-19 Heroes
Attendees and supporters of the Exchange Club’s 11th annual Field of Honor can purchase an American flag and pole for $40. Every purchased flag includes a dedication tag and is placed on display in the Field of Honor. All proceeds support local charitable organizations, while the 300+ American flags fly together to honor dedicated heroes.
As the Exchange Club’s website reads, “Walking amid the formation of flags becomes an experience hard to explain, but never to be forgotten. We invite all to visit the Newburyport Field of Honor® display and walk with us among the posted flags.”
From September 9 to September 17, the public can visit the Field of Honor as long as they follow COVID-19 guidelines and maintain social distancing. This year’s commemoration concludes with a virtual ceremony, rather than the traditional on-site ceremony, to highlight the event’s history and read aloud the names of each person honored in the display.
“We’ll be able to scroll through and read the names that are up there on the display,” said Vicarro. “That’s what we’ve envisioned. It’s all happening so fast but it’s working out well. A lot of people like to hear the names, that’s why they come to the ceremony.”