High school volunteers spend much of Saturday morning setting up 146 crosses bearing the names of service members from Dougherty and Lee Counties who have been killed in combat since World War I. The memorial is part of the American Legion’s Post 30’s Field of Flags Memorial at the Albany Mall.
ALBANY — High school students from Dougherty and Lee counties sweated in the south Georgia sun Saturday morning as they meticulously placed 143 white crosses and more than 500 American flags to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attacks and to honor area troops who died in combat in service to our country.
The crosses bear the names of the 143 Dougherty and Lee service men who died in action since World War I, including Medal of Honor recipient Marine Sgt. Clyde Thomason. The flags honor service members, veterans, peace officers. firefighters and EMTs.
After 11 years in the same spot, The American Legion Post 30’s annual Patriots Field of Flags memorial program is in a different location this year. The flags and crosses are directly in front of the Albany Mall on Dawson Road, surrounding the mall’s two reflecting ponds. The memorial was moved from its usual spot facing Westover Boulevard because of the construction of Gander Mountain.
“We usually have 1,000 flags, but we really didn’t have enough room at this new location,” Marvin Mixon the chair of the Patriots Field of Flags said. “This is a time to remember the men and women who have died for our country, and also for their families.”
Mixon said the Post has recently begun adding crosses for service members who were KIA in Iraq and Afghanistan, adding that 232 members of the military from Georgia have died in those two conflicts.
Mixon said the young people volunteering to put up the crosses and flags came from the Dougherty and Lee’s different junior ROTC programs and the Young Marines.
“It pleases me to see the young kids here,” Mixon said. “I think it helps them understand what our flag represents. It’s definitely encouraging to me.”
The memorial will remain up until Sept. 14, and some activities are planned for the week.
On Tuesday at 7 p.m., a memorial service will be held featuring speaker Col. Mayo ‘Biff’ Hadden, patriotic music, rifle and cannon salutes and taps.
On Saturday at 7 p.m., the local band Relapse will perform in concert.