In Georgetown, a field of roughly 1,700 American flags stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s common for visitors to find themselves overcome by the scene, often describing it as breathtaking as they well up with memories.
“The Field of Honor isn’t something you just see, it’s something you feel,” says Jeanne Cox, chair of the event, which is hosted by the Rotary Club of Georgetown Texas. “It is a very personal and emotional connection when you see the flags. We strive to inspire patriotism and appreciation, gratitude for our country.”
For the past four years, San Gabriel Park Activity Field has been transformed into the Field of Honor to pay tribute to military members, police officers, firefighters, and first responders. Families and friends are invited to place 3-by-5-foot flags in their loved one’s name for Veterans Day. This year, the public is welcome to honor COVID-19 heroes—those who have served on the front lines of the pandemic—as well. The flags fly from Nov. 7 to 15.
Cox got the idea for the Field of Honor when she was living in Southern California and a rotary club there put on a similar event. “My daughter had just been on deployment,” she says. “It just really touched my heart and I thought to myself, Someday, I would like to do something like this somewhere.”
After she moved to Texas, she decided to carry on the tradition here. Teams of volunteers put out the flags on Nov. 6. A procession of off-duty police officers and firefighters stuck rebar in the ground, then groups followed behind to place the flags and dedications. Loved ones can mark the flags with a message.
Free and open to the public 24/7, the event has security so people can safely view the flags in the evening. A 16-foot platform provides a perfect spot for visitors to take in the scene and get aerial photography. Because of the coronavirus this year, the rotary club is taking extra precautions, spacing the flags 10-feet apart so people can safely socially distance themselves when they come to view the flags.
“Walking among the flags is a magical feeling,” Cox says. “There is something wonderful about strolling through them, reading the dedications.”
Individual flags, which cost $40, are available to purchase at the park or online until Nov. 14. People who don’t have to have a military member in their life can adopt a hero, and the flag is delivered to that person or organization after the event.
Proceeds go toward veterans’ programs, including Veteran Outdoors and R.O.C.K (Right on Center for Kids), which offer equestrian therapy programs and outdoor experiences, respectively, to help veterans heal from PTSD. This year, a portion of the money also goes to the Samaritan Center, to help people in Central Texas affected by COVID-19.
In 2019, the rotary club raised more than $42,000 through the event. “We are hoping to exceed that this year,” Cox says.
Many of the events put on in conjunction with the Field of Honor have been cancelled this year because of the pandemic, including field trips for school kids. However, the rotary club is bringing virtual events into classrooms to make up for it, inviting people who serve in the military to speak.
On Nov. 7, the rotary club is hosting an outdoor concert featuring Austin country artist Wynn Williams, who will sing songs written by veterans through a program called “Resilient Me,” a PTSD therapy program.
Here are a few more events taking place around Texas to celebrate Veterans Day.
Military Museum of Fort Worth Grand Re-opening
On Nov. 11, walk through a life-size replica of a World War I trench and see how a bombed French farmhouse served as an American field headquarters during World War II. The Military Museum of Fort Worth is celebrating its grand re-opening on Veterans Day, with artifacts like weapons and equipment used in the field from WWI to Desert Storm. The museum is now housed at Ridgmar Mall.
Veterans Day Celebration Waxahachie
From 10:30 to 11 a.m. on Nov 14, come out for a short celebration and flyover outside the Ellis County Veterans Memorial located at the Waxahachie Civic Center. Inside events have been canceled for the year, but the outdoor memorial is a great opportunity to celebrate your military loved one.
National Museum of the Pacific War
The museum is only open by reservation this year, but it has still found a way to honor military service men and women this Veterans Day. On Nov. 11 from 11 to 11:30 a.m., the museum hosts a virtual event featuring keynote speaker Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gen. Michael Hagee, USMC (Ret.) speak about the meaning of Veterans Day. The event concludes with a photo montage of veterans.