IF YOU GO

What: Farmington s Third Annual Healing Field flag display

When: Through 5:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Boys and Girls Club, 1825 E. 19th St., Farmington

Buy a memorial: A flag and dog tag is $60, a standard dog tag is $5 and a deluxe photo of special shape dog tag is $15.

More info: Go to healingfield.org/farmington14 or call 505-860-3843.

FARMINGTON — Hundreds of flags are on display at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club to honor military personnel for Memorial Day.

The San Juan County Rotary Club teamed up with Blue Star Mothers to set up flags in the Healing Field. Now in its third year, the field provides a way for the community to recognize veterans.

"It's important to recognize people who serve each other," said Melissa Meechan, the Rotary club's president.

After volunteers set up the flags in rows on Friday morning, Drew Degner, the co-chair of the Healing Field committee, gathered the group together to talk about the display's importance and Memorial Day.

"This weekend, this day, this field is meant to recognize those who have served our nation," he said.

The volunteers included around 18 employees from Parker's Office Products in Farmington, which is owned by the Smith family.

"I think we really wanted to recognize the holiday for what it is, and not just a chance to have another day off," said the company's general manager, Jeff Smith.

The idea for helping set up the field came from Jeff Smith's brother, Preston, who is a member of the Rotary club.

"We just really believe in this country," Preston Smith said. "We believe in the founding principles of this country."

Also helping set up the field were the Blue Star Mothers, an organization for mothers with children who are serving or have served in the military. Among them was Cindy Castle, whose daughter, U.S. Army Spc. Christine Castle, is currently serving in the military.

Castle said the field honors not only those who died in service to their country, but also it also remembers the sacrifice of those currently serving "to be there if they're needed, to die if needed."

She said there are 10 Gold Star Mothers in San Juan County who have had children die in the military in the last 10 years. The Blue Star Mothers serve as a support system for them.

"We are there for them 365 days a year," Castle said.

Members of the Blue Star Mothers place flags on Friday at the Healing Field flag display at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club.
Members of the Blue Star Mothers place flags on Friday at the Healing Field flag display at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club. (Megan Farmer/The Daily Times)

On Memorial Day, which is often a difficult day for these mothers, Castle said members of the group join them at the Healing Field, often sitting beside them.

She said part of what has made the field successful has been community support.

"What we've seen in the past two years is the growth of people who want to come out and help us set up," Castle said.

At the field's closing ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Monday, members of the Rotary club will read a list of service members killed in action from San Juan County, said Gary Risley, co-chair of the Healing Field committee.

Throughout the display, people can also purchase dog tags and flags in memory or in honor of people, military or civilian.

Risley said when people walk on the field while the wind is blowing, they can hear dog tags jingling.

In addition to dog tags, some people who have purchased flags decorate them with yellow ribbons and pictures.

Near the front of the display are a series of flags representing those who are currently serving and those who have died in service.

"We felt we wanted to put the 'memorial' back in Memorial Day," Risley said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.