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Fourth of July remembrance tempered but support still strong
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Fourth of July remembrance tempered but support still strong

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Volunteers gathered at the Lowe’s YMCA field in Mooresville Wednesday morning ready to place 600 American flags for the 2020 Field of Flags presented by BestCo and hosted by the Exchange Club of Mooresville-Lake Norman.

After breakfast and a time of prayer for the day, Kim Saragoni, who served as coordinator for this year’s event, directed the volunteers to the various work stations to begin assembling the flags and preparing the field for the flags, which would fly on the field in honor or memory of a veteran, active military or first responder.

At 10 a.m. all work ceased and everyone gathered midfield as a first flag ceremony was conducted with Saragoni welcoming everyone to the special event. She introduced Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins who likewise thanked the crowd for coming and thanked the local Exchange Club for once again offering this event for the community. Next to share a few words was John Headley, executive director of Welcome Home Veterans Living Military Museum. He noted how thankful he was that the local organization stresses Americanism and how especially grateful he was for the event which honors veterans and the flag.

Cotton Ketchie, a member of the Exchange Club, shared the invocation giving thanks for the day and the freedoms that we enjoy.

After the time of prayer, Headley placed the first flag on the field and then faced it and saluted. He was followed by Atkins and Saragoni who placed the second and third flags respectively, which concluded the brief ceremony.

The group resumed their duties and within the hour the call to begin putting the remaining flags on the field was issued and it wasn’t long before the green field turned into a sea of red, white and blue. Just enough of a breeze caused the flags to flutter and create a truly beautiful sight.

The flags were watched over throughout the night and weekend by several scout troops including BSA Troop 171 G, the first girls’ Scout troop and BSA Troop 171, both of which are sponsored by Williamson’s Chapel UMC, BSA Troop 377, sponsored by Rocky Mount Church and BSA Troop 162, which is sponsored by St. Mark’s Lutheran Church.

Visitors dropped by the field and keeping a proper social distance walked around enjoying the beauty of the flags and read the names of those individuals being honored. Three towers of lights, provided by the Mooresville Police Department, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office and Mooresville Fire and Rescue, kept the flags illuminate and allowed sufficient lighting for visitors to see the field in the evening hours.

“It’s the Exchange Club’s honor to be able to provide this for the community especially in these difficult times in our nation and world,” said Beth Packard, president of the Exchange Club of Mooresville-Lake Norman. “It has been so beautiful to see families and dogs come out to the field and see them take pictures and view the beauty.”

In addition to the flags, several military vehicles were on site providing a unique photo opportunity for those that wanted to pose by the jeep donated for the event by Don Blake and the five-ton truck provided by Steven Andiloro.

Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the usual ceremony was not scheduled this year; however, a virtual ceremony will be available for all to watch on both the Field of Flags and the Exchange Club of Mooresville-Lake Norman’s Facebook pages and will remain on these pages to be viewed at any time. Those who have purchased a flag will receive a link to the ceremony via email, Saragoni noted.

The virtual ceremony, which is anticipated to be available for viewing around noon today, will open with comments from Packard, followed by the sharing of the invocation. Greetings from both the National Exchange Club President Russ Finney and Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins will be shared as well as special music including a medley of each military branch song and the hymn “Amazing Grace.”

After the play of Taps, there will be a reading of all of the names for whom the flags were placed in honor or memory, bringing the official ceremony to a conclusion. Sponsors will be listed at the end of the virtual presentation recognizing them for their contributions toward this special observance.

This has been a community event of which Saragoni shared she was thankful for.

“The thing that has really touched me is the outpouring of community support and excitement in this unprecedented time. We have had to make schedule changes even to install the field,” she shared. “In the spirit of Americanism, people get to come out and see something beautiful all at a social distance.”

Proceeds from the flag sales will benefit the programs of service of the local Exchange Club, which are Americanism, community service, youth programs and the organization’s national project of the prevention of child abuse.

Those purchasing a flag may pick it up beginning today from 11 a.m. to noon; July 7 and 9 from 4-8 p.m.; July 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; July 16 from 4-8 p.m. and July 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. As noted on the ticket, unclaimed flags will become the property of the club.

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