By Abbey Snow

Photos by Samuel Snow

The Exchange Club of Mesquite held a ceremony Saturday evening on the west field of the Mesquite Recreation Center where 1,000 flags were placed on Sunday, Nov. 5, for the 12th annual “One Thousand Flags Over Mesquite” event that honors the military and veterans.

This year, a special tribute was added to dedicate flags to those affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas on Oct. 1. Two full rows consisted of an individual flag for each of the 58 victims who lost their lives, a flag for the over 500 wounded, and a flag for the first responders, medical professionals, and the hundreds of volunteer heroes who helped.

A slideshow of the victims’ dedication flags created by Teri Nehrenz can be found here:

The event started with Paul Benedict, the master of ceremonies for the Exchange Club of Mesquite and a USAF Veteran. He was the announcer throughout the event. He mentioned how the flags represent those veterans who have served our country, as well as explaining why they added those involved in the Las Vegas tragedy.

“We have flags representing those who lost their lives in the Las Vegas shooting on October first,” Benedict said. “Because of that, they have a kinship with those who have served. That kinship is why the flags in the first two rows behind me share this field of honor with our veterans in our military. Please join me in a moment of silence for all those of whom these flags are dedicated.”

US Army Veteran and Mayor of Mesquite Allan Litman spoke next. He addressed the topic of the American Flag.

“We treat our flag differently than most countries,” Litman said. “In our pledge to the flag and our attitude towards it. It is far more than just a symbol representing a country.”

Litman went on explaining that how we stand for our flag, salute it, and pledge allegiance to it.

“But do we know really why?” Litman said. “Perhaps if everyone knew why, it would be treated with more respect by those who try and dishonor it with protests and defiling it. We stand for our flag today not to please ourselves but to honor those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. We stand for the flag not to focus on what divides us, but on what unites us, which is being an American.”

The Mesquite Veterans Honor Guard presented the colors followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. The Virgin Valley High School Chamber Choir directed by Marie Palmer then sang the National Anthem.

A few more items were addressed by Benedict, after which Mayor Litman presented Robert Barquist with a plaque for being chosen as this year’s Parade Grand Marshal.

The VVHS Chamber Choir concluded the ceremony with two more songs titled “American Anthem” and “Thank You Soldiers.”

Benedict thanked all who attended and then turned around to salute the field of flags before walking off.