Hundreds of spectators gather in Charleston for Memorial Day ceremony
By Sgt. Jennifer M. Antoine
| | May 31, 2005
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Several hundred spectators, including the MCRD Parris Island Firing Detail, gathered at Marion Square in Charleston on Memorial Day, despite the threat of impending rain.
They gathered at a display of flags named "Soldier's Healing Field," to honor the service members who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
"I think it is important we don't forget the reasons we are able to celebrate Memorial Day with hotdogs, hamburgers and cold drinks," said Ronald Buske, co-chairman of "Soldier's Healing Field." "Many men and women have given the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of this country."
The morning began at 6:30 a.m., when members of the community, cub scouts, friends and family of those lost and citizens simply passing by the park volunteered to place flags as each name was read.
The volunteers placed 1,837 American flags in the field, one for each of the men and women who have died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 38 flags representing South Carolina service members.
"The idea for the memorial began at the first anniversary of 9/11, when Paul Swenson, owner of Colonial Flags and member of the Sandy, Utah, Exchange Club, wanted to show the magnitude of people lost during 9/11. He put three thousand and thirty-one flags up and found that families, friends and community members really found healing while visiting the memorial. That's how we came up with the name of 'Soldier's Healing Field'," said Buske.
During the service, a bell tolled from across the street at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church for the South Carolina members.
As the ceremony came to a close, the Firing Detail fired a 21-gun salute over the aligned flags and "Taps" was played by Cpl. Adam Schwiederowski, bugler, Parris Island Marine Band.
Although the weather was not perfect, "Any one of these [service members] would have loved the chance to walk another day in the rain," said Buske.
The memorial will remain up through June 4, said Buske. For more information or photos of the display, visit the Web site www.healingfield.org/charleston.