Volunteers plant the last eight rows of the Field of Flags Saturday outside the Albany Mall as a memorial to 9/11 and to salute past and present men and women in the armed service or life saving fields such as police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel.
ALBANY -- The invitation of a friend roused James Stalbey to help install 1,000 flags at the ninth annual Field of Flags to the west of the Albany Mall Saturday.
"This is the first year I'm here," said Stalbey of Albany's Premier Auto Works. "I was happy to lend a hand to show we appreciate the military and honor the fallen on 9/11."
Paul "P.J." Shiverb a coworker at Premier, also came along to plant flags. He said he was surprised to see so many of his shop's customers helping with the installation.
"It is good to see that people I know are still thinking about the people that died in the towers," Shiver said. "We'll be back next year to help too."
It is that feeling that keeps volunteers returning to give up their Saturday to drill holes, plant the flags and set up a stage year after year, said Marvin Mixon, the event's chairman.
"We do this so that the memory of the attack doesn't erase from people's hearts and minds," Mixon, a Vietnam veteran. "We also honor those who went to Iraq and Afghanistan and their families because they are affected too. This is also our way to demonstrate that we appreciate all our police, firefighters and emergency personnel do for us."
The flags began going up at 8 a.m., and by noon, 12 rows with 50 flags each were completed. After a short break for lunch, volunteers began to put the remaining eight rows up.
A Leesburg resident, Gale Rodgers, was at the event with at least 10 Marines from the Marine Corps League. She said, "I was a Marine for 24 years. We moved here three years ago and we've helped with this commutation of 9/11 every year. It is also an appreciation for those who serve today and the land we love."
The public is invited to visit the field to walk around or take pictures. On Friday, a band, Relapse, plans to begin a performance at 7 p.m. On Saturday, a memorial program with main speaker Lt. Col. Dan Hammack scheduled.
The volunteers, which included active service members, retired members, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts and other organizations, pledged to service in fields such as law enforcement or firefighting and civilians from the community all raised the flags together so that no one will forget the honor due.