This year’s 10th Annual 1000 Flags Over Mesquite proved to be the biggest one yet, with more participants and spectators than ever before. There were a total of 65 flags that were sponsored by the end of the event.
“In the ten years of doing this, each year touches my heart more than the last. I am just awestruck by what the community has done. Wednesday night, all the young people were here,” commented Mesquite Exchange Club member Paul Benedict.
During the Veterans Day Ceremony on Nov. 11, the attending crowd was fortunate to stand with local Girl Scout Troop 27 as they presented the Pledge of Allegiance. The Mesquite Stake of LDS Youth sang the National Anthem and the Mesquite Veterans Honor Guard presented colors.
“Over the past few years, the LDS youth have usually held their own ceremonies to teach about the flags and history of the military. This year, they asked to be part of the Veterans Ceremony on Veterans Day,” commented Benedict.
Several veterans spoke of their feelings of Veterans Day and the impact it has on them, including Mayor Al Litman and Jim Carrick, who are both Army Veterans. Janet McDonald, who is a retired U.S. Air Force Lt.Col presented a music selection.
Exchange Club President, Pam Gagnon, also presented a check to the Mesquite Veteran’s Center President Ken Maynard for $2,000 to use as they wish in their efforts to support local veterans. “We assist them whenever we can,” said Benedict.
Sunday’s closing ceremony saw a smaller crowd but still provided a sort of solace with the attendees as the Mesquite Fire Department retired a flag with the help of local Boy Scout Troop 2060. “One of the important traditions of the 1000 Flags Over Mesquite is the Retirement of Colors by the Mesquite Fire Department,” Benedict added.
Under the direction of Mesquite Fire Captain William Martinez, the flag was dismantled stripe by stripe as Benedict read the infamous poem by Ruth Apperson Rous “I am the Flag,” which detailed the meaning of each piece. Three of the Troop’s Boy Scouts took the pieces of the flag to its final resting place inside a makeshift fire as Isaac Talahytewa played Taps.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dennis Hangey played Amazing Grace on his bagpipes as he faded off into the field of flags.
“We are prepared to do this for as long as it is appreciated by our community,” said Benedict of the Exchange Club. “And by the looks of things, the appreciation grows every year. We’re in it for the long haul; our soldiers were, so are we.”
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