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Flags elicit emotions

July 04, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

People who walked through the Healing Field at Antietam National Battlefield said the display brought up strong emotions and bittersweet memories.

The Healing Field, which is being taken down today, actually is a plowed cornfield that had more than 3,000 U.S. flags planted instead. All but two flags had a name of a victim of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks attached.

"I like this," said Carol Harne, 60, of Myersville, Md. "Really, it's awesome."

Harne was standing along one side of the field, camera in hand, a flank of red, white and blue before her.

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"Isn't this something," she said.

The field had a dual purpose. One was to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks.

The other was to raise money for the Exchange Clubs of Washington County's Parent-Child Center in Hagerstown.

According to those who saw the field and organizers of the project, people who visited this weekend embraced both aspects.

Blanton and Betty Croft, of Maugansville, were strolling through the field, touching flags and reading names to each other.

"We just feel it's part of the healing process of getting to know these people personally," said Blanton Croft, 70.

His wife, Betty Croft, 69, said, "It makes you aware of people ... These are not flags. These are countrymen. Those are people that were destroyed by hatred."

Bill Czyzewski, 55, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., said he is a Vietnam veteran. Walking through the flags on a prosthetic leg, which he said was a result of a gunshot wound he received in Vietnam, he said it brought strong emotions.

"It's just like when I go down to the (Vietnam veterans) wall" in Washington, Czyzewski said. "This slows things down and gives a little more perspective."

"This is awesome," Czyzewski said.

Lance Davis, 33, of Williamsport, said he bought a flag to take home.

Organizers hoped to sell each one for $30, which would raise $30,000 after the cost of the event, said Millie Lowman, the executive director of the Parent-Child Center.

Davis said it was something that felt like the right thing to do.

"It kind of makes you feel like you're doing your part to acknowledge (those who died), and never forget," Davis said.

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