Ed Walters, 69, stared at seven American flags that gently blew in the breeze Saturday afternoon. They may all look the same, but each has a unique story, he said.
The seven flags stood for seven individuals in Walters family who all served in different military branches, Walters said. He took pictures of them as they were placed in the front lawn of Merced College on M Street for the fourth annual Field of Honor event.
Merced Field of Honor is a yearly event, said Nancy Edmiston, co-chair for Field of Honor, that happens during the week of Veterans Day. Merced Field of Honor is the second event of its kind to start in California, she said.
The event honors all military veterans and first responders, Edmiston said, and as of Saturday afternoon there were about 1,000 flags on the field.
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Purchasing a new flag is $35, Edmiston said, and reusing a flag is $10 to be displayed. The proceeds go to the Merced Rotary Club, sponsors of the event, which disperses the money to charities related to veterans and first responders.
“It’s an opportunity to remember those who have given their lives,” Edmiston said. “This day and age, it’s not something people do much anymore.”
It’s an opportunity to remember those who have given their lives. This day and age, it’s not something people do much anymore.
Nancy Edmiston, co-chair for Field of Honor
Walters pointed to two flags and said, “These are my brothers.” He laughed as he thought about how different they were from each other. One was always happy and the other was always abiding by the rules, he said; one was in the Air Force, the other in the Army.
“Each one of them (the flags) can tell you a story,” Walters said. “The Valley doesn’t have a lot of things. To see Merced do this is very, very inspiring.”
Dewayne Young, co-chair for Field of Honor, had seven family members represented on the field and said the flags have meaning beyond just the week they are displayed on the field.
People personalize them and add pictures, Young said, and always look forward to participating. Every year there have been more flags than the year before, he said.
Just driving by the field gives Merced resident Rita DeAnda the chills, DeAnda said. She and her mother, Tina DeAnda, were placing a flag Saturday for their father and husband, Cruz DeAnda, who died last year.
“This is a physical example of how many people dedicated their lives to the country,” Rita DeAnda, 24, said. “Honor your flag and pay your respects for those people.”
This is a physical example of how many people dedicated their lives to the country. Honor your flag and pay your respects for those people.
Rita DeAnda, 24-year-old Merced resident
Cruz DeAnda was in the Navy for 20 years, Tina DeAnda said, and this was their second year placing a flag in his memory.
“If you met him, he always tried to teach you something,” Rita DeAnda said.
Tina DeAnda became emotional as they talked about how much people respected her husband and thanked him for his service. He turned out to be a big influence in people’s lives, she said.
On Veterans Day, which is Friday, there will be a closing ceremony on the field in front of Merced College at 4 p.m., Young said. It will include a “missing man” plane formation flyover and guest speakers.
The ceremonial unveiling of honorary “Veterans Boulevard” signs added below M Street street signs – approved by the City Council over the summer – will take place during the closing ceremony as well, Young said.
Walters said he hopes one day to see crowds of people at Field of Honor, because he thinks it’s important for the younger generation to know about the history of the country and how those who fought contributed to where we are today.
“I love seeing this every year,” Walters said. “It’s phenomenal. It’s a neat experience that Merced does something like this.”
Monica Velez: 209-385-2486