HUNTINGTON — It’s a moving experience to walk among more than 3,000 American flags placed at the Spring Hill Cemetery, said Stacey Leep, recreation superintendent for the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District.
It’s all part of the Healing Field, organized by the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, on display at the cemetery until Sept. 13.
The Healing Field is a vigil to the thousands of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, recognizes the 75 lives lost in the 1970 Marshall University plane crash and memorializes those buried at the cemetery.
The Healing Field has become a special site for many to come to every year to dedicate a flag to their loved ones, Leep said. It costs $35 to dedicate a flag and an additional $15 to reuse the flag the following year.
A member of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District is stationed in a blue tent beside the cemetery for anyone who wants to dedicate a flag, Leep said. They are then allowed to place the flags themselves, offering private reflection and vigil for their lost loved ones.
It’s a powerful feeling to walk among the flags and know each one of them represents someone lost, she said.
The Healing Field will coincide with a Patriot Day ceremony and the Marshall March of Remembrance starting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11.
A procession of Marshall students will carry 75 flags from the Marshall Rec Center on 5th Avenue, south on 20th Street and on to the Spring Hill Cemetery.
The students will then place the flags in the Healing Field before joining the Patriot Day ceremony. Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert and Marshall Student Body President Hunter Barclay are expected to speak at the event.
The Patriot Day ceremony will begin immediately after with local officials, first responders, veterans of the U.S. military and patriotic music from local singers.
Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District Executive Director Kevin Brady will host the ceremony, followed by light refreshments.
Patriot Day is a national event established to remember the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Wednesday, Sept. 12, will be set aside as a “Day of Reflection” before the Healing Field is taken down Thursday, Sept. 13. Participants are asked to retrieve their flags on Sept. 13 before 4 p.m.
Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.