EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 14, 2011

Plaistow church to plant 6,282 flags

PLAISTOW — There will be 6,282 flags flying at the Rockingham Church tomorrow.

Each of the thousands of flags represents an American soldier who died fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan in the past 10 years, honoring them for their sacrifice.

Church member and Plaistow resident Jackie Masse organized the event, Honoring Our Heroes.

"It's not just New Hampshire names, but names of everyone in our country who has died for our freedom," Masse said. "Each flag contains a personalized card that shows the name, rank, branch, age when they died, home state, and whether in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Afghanistan Operation Enduring Freedom."

Honoring the soldiers is important to her personally, Masse said, because her son Sean, 22, is on active duty with the Marines.

The Rock's pastor, Steve Murray, came up with the idea for the event.

"For the last few years, we've done a special Veterans Day Sunday worship," he said. "We invite anyone who has served at any time to come and we honor them during the service with a small gift. It's a very powerful service. We starting thinking how could we do more for the 10th anniversary of 9/11?"

Starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow, volunteers will line up to start planting the flags in the field next to the church.

"We'll be planting 100 flags at a time, every minute or so," Murray said. "Watching the flags go up is going to be amazing to see. The flags will also form a flag from above, with breaks to make stripes and stars."

The flags will remain on display until Veterans Day, Nov. 11, and will be open to the public to pray, reflect and walk through the field.

"We've asked people who have lost loved ones to plant the flags for their soldiers," Masse said. "Our goal is for the community to participate, not just come and view the flags in place."

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