VIRGINIA BEACH – The flags that will be flying July 4 in remembrance of our nation’s independence will serve as a beautiful reminder of enduring freedom.
But a field along Laskin Road filled with 6,953 flags serves as a different sort of reminder: a sobering one of the price paid by members of the United States military who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2012 the Eastern Shore Chapel has had the tradition of putting the flags out on Memorial Day and collecting them again after the Fourth of July. The field of flags is hard for drivers to miss as they travel past, and they represent a palpable message about the cost being paid by military service members.
Associate Rector Julia Messer said parishioners hoped the big display of little flags would make a “tangible” statement.
“We continue to do it because we know it’s a beautiful, tangible, but bittersweet memory of the people who have died for this country,” she said. “We know it’s impacting this community.”
In conjunction with the placing of the flags the church also reads the names of each of the service members during a pre-Memorial Day service and says prayers for each of them.
Messer said they frequently have people driving by and honking their car horns in recognition of the display. And often, for their own personal reasons, people often stop and take a quiet moment at the site.
One couple, she said, even added their own little flag to the church’s display.
The church does accept donations that go to the display, and when flags become worn or damaged they’re given to a local Boy Scout Troop to be disposed of properly.