Healing Field flag honors father of U.S. Senator
Healing Field Memorial Day event in Farmington Photos by Hannah Grover, edited by Sarah Duenas/Daily Times
FARMINGTON — Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, visited the Healing Field today at the Farmington Boys & Girls Club to see a flag displayed in his father's honor.
The Healing Field is an annual Memorial Day flag display in Farmington put on by the San Juan County Rotary Club with the help of the Blue Star Mothers of San Juan County. People can purchase dog tags to hang on flags in the field in honor of people who have served or are currently serving in the armed forces.
Peter Heinrich served in the U.S. Navy in the 1950s in the Marshall Islands. Heinrich said he felt honored to have his father's flag and name displayed among so many other veterans.
While the senator had never visited the Healing Field in Farmington before, he stopped by to see his father's flag prior to going to Memory Gardens Cemetery, where he spoke during the annual Memorial Day ceremony.
Heinrich walked through the flag display, which was set up in the field outside the Farmington Boys & Girls Clubs, after he visited his father's flag. He paused to read names on dog tags hanging from the flags. While reading the names, he had the chance to hear the stories behind the names.
Heinrich said having a flag honoring his father gave him the opportunity to tell his father's story.
"The thing I think is most important is to not forget the stories of those who didn't return," Heinrich said.
In the center near the entrance to the Healing Field, a series of flags honor people who died in service in either Afghanistan or Iraq.
Heinrich and Farmington Police Chief Steve Hebbe stopped at the flags to visit the one honoring Sgt. James Thode, a Farmington police officer who died while on deployment to Afghanistan.
Heinrich and Hebbe were among hundreds of people who visited the Healing Field over Memorial Day weekend.
"Who would have thought that just a field full of flags would mean so much for so many people," said Ross Rogers, president of San Juan County Rotary Club.
Blue Star Mothers' chapter president Diane McClelland said she was glad to see several people bring their children to the field. She said it is important to remember people who have served in the armed forces and to teach children about it.
"From the time it began, we have protected our country for our freedoms and they paid the ultimate sacrifice," McClelland said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.