Healing Field returns to Farmington

Hannah Grover
Volunteer Corie James helps set up a flag on Friday for the Rotary Club and Blue Star Mothers' Healing Fields event at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club.

FARMINGTON — With more than 500 flags displayed, the San Juan East Rotary Club and Four Corners Blue Star Mothers hope to "put the memorial back in Memorial Day."

Every year, the two groups come together to honor first responders and military personnel who have died in service to their country and communities. Community members can purchase flags in the field or dogtags to hang on flags during the three-day event known as the Healing Field.

Volunteers from around the community met at 7 a.m. today  to assemble the display. Within less than an hour, all the flags were planted in the football field at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club waving in a slight breeze.

"I think if people will make the effort to come here ... they'll find it a truly moving experience," said Gary Risley, the event chairman.

At right, Volunteer Dave Pixton on Friday drives a stake into a field as volunteers help set up for the Rotary Club and Blue Star Mothers' Healing Fields at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club.

The memorial display will continue through Monday and will conclude with a ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday. The secretary of The New Mexico Department of Veterans' Services will be the keynote speaker and the names of San Juan County first responders and military members who have died in service will be read.

Prior to the closing service, the groups have set aside a time for families so children can experience the display without disturbing the ceremony's reverent mood. The Family time will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and will include activities for children.

Risley said the time is an opportunity for parents to teach children what Memorial Day is about.

The display touches close to home for Blue Star Mothers.

Dianne McClelland, the local chapter's president, said in addition to having sons and daughters serving in the military many of the members have also had other family members including parents and grandparents who served in the military.

"This is a way for us to remember all of them," she said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

Volunteers set up flags on Friday for the Rotary Club and Blue Star Mothers' Healing Field at the Farmington Boys and Girls Club.