Ohio Church’s Field of Flags Honors Those Who Served
By Carl Stagner
A little inspiration and a can-do spirit goes a long way. Consider the new Veterans Day tradition a couple ladies of Heritage Church in Maumee, Ohio, started just a few years ago and the impact it’s already had on their community. In light of the liberties secured and maintained by those who serve, Lynn Bryant and Barb Sherrick feel it’s the least they can do.
Four years ago, the two friends were in Columbus on Memorial Day weekend, getting goosebumps as they took in the incredible scene before their eyes—some four thousand flags arrayed in salute to soldiers who had paid the ultimate price. The Field of Heroes exhibit was just the spark these co-leaders needed to bring a similar, but smaller-scale experience to their own backyard. With a green light given by their pastor, Robert Fry, the two got busy preparing the Field of Flags.
Recruiting a team of volunteers to help pull off an exhibit of this magnitude was first on their to-do list. But, as the pair discovered, the purpose behind their plans captured the attention and interest of others in the church and community and, before long, the puzzle pieces came together. A skilled craftsman who owns a sawmill prepared the crosses to accompany the flags. An Army veteran jumped in head-first to offer everything he could. Another skilled laborer donated the cast iron silhouette of a solider kneeling at the cross. Others contributed ideas and physical labor to assemble the exhibit. Meanwhile, the invitation to sponsor a flag for a nominal, one-time fee would cover the costs of the materials and, at the same time, individually honor by name the veterans known by local friends and family.
With each passing year, the exhibit has improved. Though the Field of Flags relied on the church’s power the first year, blown fuses suggested an alternate source of energy would be required. When the need was presented for a generator, donations were readily supplied. While 55 flags composed the exhibit the first year, the number climbed to 76 the next. Though COVID complications limited expansion opportunities leading up to this year’s display, Heritage Church expects the number of sponsored flags to rise again in 2022.
“We’ve got a lot of veterans in our church,” Lynn explains. “We invite the community to come out every year, and the local paper and Christian TV station share the information. All week, people stop by the church to enjoy the Field of Flags and take pictures.”
The church is situated along a stretch of road only a quarter-mile long, but the community turnout remains strong. For many, Field of Flags is a must-visit destination during the week of Veterans Day. Lynn Bryant has indicated increasing interest in adapting the display for Memorial Day, as well. Free meals for veterans in the future, in addition to hosting the Moving Wall Vietnam War replica, are ideas that have also been floated to further honor those who served.
Pastor Robert Fry is a veteran himself. He’s thoroughly blessed by the diligent and fruitful efforts of his congregation to make Field of Flags possible.
“I lost three high school friends in Vietnam,” Pastor Fry explains. “They never got to go to another Christmas party, they never got to get married, they never got to have kids. What we do to observe Veterans Day is all about respect. We just want to respect and honor those who served. In our area, we’re really the only church doing anything like this for Veterans Day. Some preachers have avoided the subject. So, this is truly a service to our community.”
On this Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada, thank you to all who served!
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Feature (top) photo: Field of Flags 2021 at Heritage Church.