After a year of planning, and three weeks of honoring our fallen heroes here in New Martinsville, I would like to thank the caring individuals for the patriotic memorial we were able to build. So many people stopped to view the flags: people from throughout our community and from far away states. We met veterans from several decades, young men who have served and are heading back to Afghanistan, and everyone who understood this call to prayer.
I will be eternally grateful to: Walmart; Bridgeport Equipment; McDonald's; Rotary Club; Joe Mollendick Electric; ACE Hardware; New Martinsville Rotary; Moose Lodge No. 931; Wetzel Chronicle; Ogden Newspaper Group; Dax Thomas State Farm Agency; VFW Post 6327 in Sistersville; American Legion Marne Post 28 in New Martinsville; Mensore Distributing; our Boy Scout, Cub Scout, and Girl Scout troops; Mon Power; Sounds Incredible; Chesapeake Energy; the clergy of the New Martinsville Ministerial Association; Rev. Bruce Reed; Mayor Lucille Blum; and the many people who donated money to ensure the continuation of the Field of Flags.
I'll never forget the individuals who made the opening and closing ceremonies possible: the clergy of the New Martinsville Ministerial Association, Rev. Bruce Reed, Mayor Lucille Blum, Young Life, Bruce Ensinger, Joe Feeney, Bill Feeney, Sherry Bachman, Dave Morgan, Sean Maxwell, Donna Ice, Dave Hunt, the many who sat with the flags 24/7, those who placed the flags, and those who took the flags down, the people of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and the New Martinsville United Methodist Church, and Field of Flags Steering Committee members: Phil Tuttle, Bob Brown, Kaye Forbes, Don Hanna, Bill Stuart, Terri and John Goddard, Steve and Margaret Fox, Pastor Sean Smith, and Pastor Melissa Shortridge.
We all realized that freedom is not free. There have been 99 more casualties reported by the Defense Department since we put our flags up on Aug. 12. The total now stands at 6,297 as of Oct. 14.
Remember to honor those who have given their all, and to lift in prayer the families and friends that each individual life touched.