NORTH ANDOVER — Two decorated combat veterans and a priest who served as a Navy chaplain for 16 years will be the main speakers at the Field of Honor ceremony Saturday on the Town Common.
The ceremony, beginning at 11 a.m., will culminate the weeklong Field of Honor display of American flags on the Common. The flags are being purchased in honor of or in memory of veterans, first-responders and others who have served the nation and the community.
The ceremony will take place the day after America's official Flag Day. This massive show of patriotism is being organized by the Exchange Club of Lawrence. The goal is to display 350 United States flags on the Common, according to Rick Blain, coordinator of the demonstration.
"People will be moved when they see this field of American flags, with tags affixed that honor a loved one," Blain said.
The two combat veterans are John Doherty, retired veterans' services office for Andover; and state Veterans' Services Secretary Francisco Ureña.
The Rev. Kevin Deeley, pastor of St. Michael Church, is the former Navy chaplain. He will offer the invocation and give a reflection on "One Nation Under God."
Christopher Desjardins, Andover High School music teacher and choral director, will sing "The Star-Spangled Banner." He will also play the national anthem on his keyboard.
Doherty served as an Army officer in the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Medal of Honor, two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry and two Vietnamese Wound Medals.
Doherty was an adviser to a unit of the Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN, the South Vietnamese army). After leaving the U.S. Army, Doherty, a Harvard graduate, earned his law degree at Boston College Law School.
He then began a 14-year career as a prosecutor for both the state and the U.S. Attorney's Office. As an Essex County assistant district attorney, he won the convictions of several first-degree murderers.
Ureña, a Lawrence resident, joined the Marines after graduating from high school. Initially assigned as a security guard, he requested a more active assignment after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
He was eventually deployed to Iraq. While serving as a tank commander, he was wounded and was awarded a Purple Heart.
Before he was appointed to his current post, Ureña was the veterans' services director for two cities: first Lawrence, then Boston.
Deeley was a Navy chaplain for 16 years, ministering to both sailors and Marines. In 2006, he was assigned to the 5th Marine Regiment in Fallujah, Iraq. Ordained in 1974, he joined the Navy in 1995.
"Serving as a Navy chaplain was a great opportunity to bring church to the men and women who were away from home, sometimes in dangerous situations," he said.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 82, headquartered at St. Michael Church, will demonstrate the proper folding of an American flag.
Al Torrisi, longtime chairman of Jackson Lumber and the senior member of the Exchange Club, will read the poem, "My Name is Old Glory."
The names of every person honored by a flag on the Common will be read during the ceremony. Flags can be purchased at The Eagle-Tribune main office at 100 Turnpike St. or by visiting the Exchange Club's website, exchangecluboflawrence.com,
Those who own flags that have deteriorated may bring them to the ceremony. Members of the Exchange Club will bring the faded flags to the office of Lawrence Veterans' Services Officer Jaime Melendez, who will take care of disposing of them properly, Blain said.
Desjardins and the Gentlemen Songsters Barbershop Quartet will provide patriotic entertainment.