Westerville News & Public Opinion

Field of Heroes to recognize Korean War vets

Events will take place at the huge display of U.S. flags in Westerville throughout the holiday weekend


As the Westerville Sunrise Rotary's Field of Heroes is erected this weekend, the huge display of U.S. flags will highlight the forgotten heroes of the Korean War.

The field, set up through Memorial Day weekend at the Westerville Sports Complex, 325 N. Cleveland Ave., will feature a memorial space put together by Honor Flight Columbus, sharing the history of and recognizing local heroes of the Korean War.

A replica of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be constructed, along with two MASH-style tents filled with educational information about the war, said event organizer Dave Wartel.

In past year, the Field of Heroes has paid tribute to others, including World War II veterans, Vietnam War veterans and those who died in the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, making it a good time to raise awareness about the "Forgotten War," Wartel said.

The Field of Heroes this year will include a display of 3,000 American flags on 8-foot white poles. People can purchase the flags for $30 each or "borrow" one for $15 to recognize their own personal heroes. The 3,000 flags doubles the number featured in the display in its first year.

The field will open to the public at 1 p.m. Friday, May 24. An official opening ceremony will take place at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 25.

Also on Saturday, there will be a ceremonial reading of the heroes' names at noon, and a free concert by the 122nd Army Band from Rickenbacker Air Force Base at 7 p.m.

On Sunday, May 26, the Rotary Club has added a 5K run and walk at 8 a.m., with the money raised from the run supporting the costs associated with the field.

The Lima Company Memorial The Eyes of Freedom, which depicts the 23 Lima Company Marines who were killed in Iraq in 2005, will be in Westerville City Council Chambers, 21 S. State St., from noon to 5 p.m.

There again will be a noon reading of the heroes' names; bus tours of Westerville's historical sites, such as the Armory and Otterbein Cemetery, will depart from the Sports Complex at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. The bus tours also will stop at the Westerville Municipal Building for viewing of the Lima Company Memorial.

The flag retirement ceremony will be at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, and the closing ceremony will be at noon on Monday, May 27 -- Memorial Day.

As always, the field will be open to the public around the clock during the course of Memorial Day weekend, and the field is illuminated each night, beginning at 8 p.m.

Wartel said the field continues to provide people with the opportunity to stop and reflect on their own personal heroes on what can often be a busy holiday weekend.

"It's an individual, quiet, solemn experience, but you're also part of a community visiting those flags," Wartel said. "It's those stories that you read on the blue cards (attached to the flags) on the field that make you stop and remember your own personal heroes."

More information on the field can be found at FieldofHeroes.org.