The display of more than 200 American flags along Evergreen Mill Road at Leesburg’s Freedom Park this week is the work of the Leesburg Daybreak Rotary Club and its first Flags for Heroes campaign.
The program allows contributors to honor their personal heroes and raises money to support the club’s charitable donations.
“I am just so excited to see so many people out here celebrating these men and women who are seated here and are remembered here in these flags, many of whom have given their lives. They are our heroes,” Club President Paul Bice said during a formal dedication ceremony Monday afternoon.
During the program, two club members—Vietnam veteran Ron Clark and Leesburg Town Councilman Ron Campbell—spoke about their heroes.
Clark, with historian and Air Force veteran Reggie Simms, highlighted the contributions made by members of Purcellville’s black community who served in the military. “When the white veterans came home from World War II, they were welcomed with parades and parties. And the African-American veterans kinda had to come through the back door—no parades, no celebrations except in their own households. These veterans are my heroes,” Clark said. Several of the flags in the display bear the names of those Purcellville veterans to call attention to their service.
Campbell said he posted flags honoring the service of his father, who enlisted in the army at age 17, and his wife Barbara’s father who was born on a Native American reservation and served in the U.S. Navy. He also highlighted the experiences his uncle who was among the first to complete training at Camp Monford Point in Jacksonville, NC, when black men were first allowed to join the U.S. Marine Corps on a segregated basis. “This is why we’re Americans—the willingness to serve, the willingness to have integrity, the willingness to be inclusive, the willingness to ask difficult questions and the willingness to put yourself out there,” Campbell said.
Each flag in the display is tagged with the name of the sponsor and the individual being honored as a personal hero.
Among those in attendance for the program were U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10), Del. Wendy Gooditis (D-10), County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), Supervisors Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg), Sheriff Mike Chapman, and Leesburg Town Council members Marty Martinez and Ron Campbell.