September 11, 2004
The sight of 4,000 American flags on the shore of Tempe Town Lake on Friday stirred the emotions of Korean War veteran Harold Ambrose.
"You see pictures of Flanders Fields and of Normandy Beach, of all the crosses that are all dressed and are in perfect harmony," said Ambrose of Tempe. "It reminds me of that."
About 3,000 people are expected to visit the Healing Field at Tempe Beach Park this weekend.
The field includes one flag for each of the nearly 3,000 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In one corner of the display, dubbed Soldier’s Field, an additional 1,000 flagpoles are tied with yellow ribbons to honor the military men and women who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Norman Dominguez of Tempe said the Healing Field is a good reminder of the terrorist attacks that occurred three years ago today.
"It would probably add to the tragedy if you forgot about it," Dominguez said.
Kelly Garvey of Mesa agreed.
"It seems like it happened so long ago," Garvey said. "It’s amazing that somebody would take the time to do this in our own back yard."
The field of flags was not the only thing to catch people’s attention at the Beach Park. Tempe resident Alicia Maher said she also was impressed by the National Unity Flag, a 40-by-26-foot memorial banner that overlooked the Healing Field.
Designed Randy Cooney of Phoenix, the National Unity Flag is made up of flags of all 50 states. In the center is a banner featuring the names of every Sept. 11 victim, printed over the Statue of Liberty’s face. The red, white and blue border surrounding the flag has been signed by all 100 members of the U.S. Senate.
Kathy Ostermeyer, a public relations representative for the Unity Flag, said the flag has traveled all over the country for the past three years.
And wherever it goes, it always seems to touch someone with a connection to Sept. 11, Ostermeyer said
"It’s been very rewarding to sit back and hear all the stories," she said.
The display of flags will provide a backdrop for several events commemorating Sept. 11 this weekend, which started on Friday with a brief candlelight vigil. About 200 people came to hold candles as they walked among the flags.
One participant, Janet Lange of Tempe said that she still can’t completely comprehend all the events of Sept. 11.
"I just don’t really know how to feel about it," she said. "This just felt like something we should do."
Local dignitaries will read the names of each Sept. 11 victim and war dead 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today. The weekend will close with an interfaith memorial service at 9:10 a.m. Sunday.
The Healing Field will be dismantled Sunday afternoon, at which point the flags will be sold to benefit soldiers’ families and the National Exchange Club, the charity group that organized this weekend’s events.
Sept. 11 events
Tempe: The Healing Field will be on display at Tempe Beach Park through 3 p.m. Sunday. The names of each Sept. 11 victim will be read between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday. An interfaith service will be held at 9:10 a.m. Sunday.
• The Tempe Elks Lodge, 2320 South Hardy Drive, will hold a Law and Order night, which will include dinner for $8. For information and reservations, call (480) 967-3160.
• Resurrection Parish, 3201 S. Evergreen Road, will hold a memorial service at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. Call (480) 838-0207 for information.
Phoenix: Musicians will pay tribute to Sept. 11 from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday at Humanity Rocks, held at StarShine Academy Charter School, 2801 N. 31st St., 1/2 block south of Thomas. For information call (602) 957-9557.
• Saint Vincent de Paul Parish, 3140 N 51st Ave., will display a book containing the names of each Sept. 11 victim this weekend. The events of Sept. 11 will be read at each Mass. For information call (623) 247-6871.
Gilbert: Gilbert will host an honor guard and flag-raising ceremony at 8 a.m. Saturday in front of the Gilbert Public Safety Complex, 75 E. Civic Center Drive.
Mesa: The Mesa Neighborhood 9/11 Memorial Committee will hold its fourth annual Patriot Day and 9/11 Memorial Ceremony at Valencia Park, 634 N. Quail St. The ceremony will feature a keynote speech by Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. For information call (480) 985-5899 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp Verde: Saint Frances Cabrini Parish, Exit 285, 781 S. Cliffs Parkway, will hold a community memorial service Saturday. For information call (928) 567-3545.