SAFFORD — Veterans Day weekend opened with scores of flags flying in front of Safford City Hall for the Safford Lions Club’s inaugural Field of Honor.

Starting Saturday morning and continuing through the week, 250 flags will fly on the City Hall lawn in honor of Gila Valley veterans and active duty military. Each flag will pay tribute to an individual veteran or active servicemember, and will be accompanied by a tag with the honoree’s name, rank and conflicts in which they took part. Event organizer Horatio Skeete, of the Safford Lions Club, said the field will feature designated areas for different conflicts, starting with World War I. It will also have sections for missing in action/prisoners of war and active duty servicepeople.

Skeete said the initiative started about a year and a half ago and was partly inspired by Safford resident Peggy Hunter, who saw small flags honoring individual servicemembers while visiting another community’s downtown area. “She sent me a picture and asked me why we couldn’t do something like that in Safford,” Skeete said.

Skeete said he was also inspired by a later trip to California, where approximately 2,000 flags provided by a local Rotary Club were flying in front of the Murrieta City Hall. “I put the two together,” he said. “I thought, ‘This sounds like something we can do, and then I can satisfy the need to honor veterans and active military as well as creating an environment for people to do it.’ The (Lions) Club took up the challenge, and here we are.”

To fill the Gila Valley’s inaugural Field of Honor, the Lions worked with Colonial Flag Foundation, a Utah non-profit that handles similar projects across the country.

Flags for the Field of Honor can be purchased from the Safford Lions Club, who will have a table set up in front of City Hall Saturday through Monday, for $35. Those who buy a flag this year will be able to return and fly that flag at next year’s event for $10.

For more on the Safford Field of Honor, visit https://www.facebook.com/717mianstreet/.

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