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Flags wave in honor of 9/11 victims

Residents remember the fallen at memorial

 by Dan O'Connor
 published on Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jeffrey Lowman | The State Press
Remembrance: A visitor stands at attention at a 9/11 memorial at Tempe Beach Park./issues/news/701697
Jeffrey Lowman / THE STATE PRESS
Jeffrey Lowman | The State Press Remembrance: A visitor stands at attention at a 9/11 memorial at Tempe Beach Park.


Thousands of flags cover the midfield of Tempe Beach Park for a patriotic tribute to the victims of the attacks of Sept. 11 and will remain at full-mast today.

Volunteers at the fourth-annual Healing Field event hoisted 2,988 flags to honor each individual who perished in the attacks on New York, Pennsylvania and Washington six years ago.

The sea of flags flooding the park lead to the National Unity flag that stands nearly three stories high and bears every U.S. senator's signature and each victim's name. It is considered the most photographed flag in the nation, said Randy Cooney, flag designer.

The flag has been displayed throughout the United States.

"The cameras never stopped flashing," Cooney said in regards to the flag's debut. "That's when I knew it was something really special."

The idea was generated Sept. 12, 2001, when U.S. senators held hands and sang "God Bless America," he said. It is an emotional landmark for those affected by the attacks because it allows them to pay homage to their passed loved ones, he added.

"A lady last year was crying to the side of the flag, and we asked her why," he said. "She said her brother had been killed in the attacks, so we lifted her up and found his name, ironically, in the eye in the center."

Dennete Reid, regimental adjutant and Young Marines volunteer, heads a booth at the event that helps people find the names of victims tagged to the flags in the field.

The event, which is entirely run by community volunteers, is a learning experience for people looking to find a proactive way to express their patriotism, she said.

"There's so much patriotism that's not taught in schools, and it's important that we get out here and show them the patriotism through the flags," Reid said. "It's great that the kids get to come out and support their country."

Her battalion of Young Marines, aged 8 to 18, was on hand to assist in locating flags and flag retirement.

Samantha Spoonamore, 16, of Mesa, is in her third year with the Young Marines and said helping out with the Healing Field event is the most rewarding work she does for the organization.

"It's really special because there was a lady earlier who asked me to find her husband in the field," she said. "It's really special when you can help someone find a lost relative in the field."

The memorial is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. today with commemorative services scheduled for 5:40 a.m. and 6:03 a.m. A candlelight vigil is set for 7 p.m.

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