NORTH ANDOVER — Volunteers were ahead of schedule and ahead of the heat Saturday morning while placing 500 flags strategically 10 feet apart on the North Andover Town Common.
The flags will be up for two weeks — until July 5 — serving as a reminder of “the people who help us and serve us every day,” said Sean Devan, President of the Exchange Club of Lawrence and the Andovers.
This is the second year the club has participated in the Field of Honor, which Exchange Clubs around the nation participate in. Last year all 350 flags were dedicated in honor or in memory of veterans or those who have served the community. This year, Devan said the patriotic dedication is even more inspiring because many Memorial Day and Fourth of July events have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year the club expanded to 500 flags, about half of which have been dedicated. The flags each have a 30-word description about the person it’s dedicated to, Devan explained.
Members of the community can still purchase flags to dedicate. Everyone who buys a flag to dedicate will receive it on July 6, after they are removed from the common.
“Even in 30 words you are choked up,” he said.
The powerful patriotic demonstration is one of Devan’s favorite town events.
“It’s so rewarding” seeing the flags to signify so many people who have or are currently making a difference, he said.
This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many first responders and medical professionals being honored, Devan said.
“I hope this can help us heal,” he said, adding that people of every race and gender are honored in the field.
Because of the virus, there is no in-person ceremony. There will be a video, Devan said.
The Exchange Club is encouraging social distancing, which can be observed easily with the flags each 10 feet apart, Devan said.
Each night the flags will be lit up as well, he said.
Flags can be purchased and/or dedicated for a $40 contribution on the website exchangecluboflawrenceandtheandovers.org, or simply exchangecluboflawrence.org. Members of the club will also be out at the town common most weeknights, weather permitting, from 5 to 8 p.m. and people can purchase a flag in-person.