When you see the flags displayed on the lawn of City Hall, you see the symbols representing a Veteran who has served their country in the United States military. The show of Stars and Stripes is the 4th Annual Field of Honor sponsored by the Safford Lions Club as a way to commemorate Veterans Day and show gratitude to the service personnel of the Gila Valley.
Chris Gibbs is the district governor for the Lions Club in southern Arizona he and Horacio Steet helped start the Field of Honor in Safford 4 years ago. Chris says “The Veterans celebration has grown from 45 in attendance to about 300 last year. The first year we put up 150 flags, this year we will put up about 500 flags.”
Veterans Day became a national holiday in 1938 to pay tribute to American veterans of all wars. November 11 was chosen to represent the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918 and the end of World War I. Graham County is currently home to over 3000 active and retired military service men and women. Local veterans served in the Gulf Wars, Korea, and World War II, the majority served in Vietnam according to datausa.io
Chris served 24 years in the Air Force and retired as a captain. His wife, Deborah retired as a lieutenant Cornel after serving 30 years in the Air Force. “We celebrate all veterans on that day. Veterans serving our country are how we gained and keep our freedoms and our democratic republic. We collaborate with all major veterans’ groups to make this special, including, VFW and American Legions, and Gila Valley Veteran Services. This year the Daughters of American Revolution is sponsoring 24 Betsy Ross flags, there will be 9 flags for WWI veterans and about 100 from WWII.”
Carol Navarette family members served in the army, navy, and coast guard. This year she purchased flags in their honor as a special way to pay tribute. "It makes me proud to say that my father was a veteran. I hope they are never forgotten." Carol’s father and uncle were very active in the American Legion “He was proud to have served.”
The Safford Field of Honor will be held November 5th – 12th, 2022 at Safford City Hall 717 West Main Street, and the Graham County Courthouse 800 W Main Street in Safford.
On Veterans Day, Friday, November 11th the Veterans Parade with Deborah Gibbs as Grand Marshall, will start at 10:30 beginning at Main street and 3rd Avenue, continuing up Main street to the Graham County Court House lawn.
The Veterans Day ceremonies begin at 11:00 am at the Court House followed by a luncheon at the American Legion Post 32 at 531 S 11th Avenue in Safford at noon. The information booth and flag sales will be open at City Hall lawn until noon.
The flags will stay on the city hall and courthouse lawn until noon Saturday, November 12th.
If you would like to sponsor a flag for a US Service veteran you can get more information from Michelle Wilson at Farmers Insurance at 610 W Main Street in Safford or go to https://www.healingfield.org/event/saffordaz22/
This event is part of a national honor for Veterans Day organized through the Colonial Flag Foundation Flag Display. Over 58,800 flags will be displayed at 38 separate events across the country. The Safford Field of Honor is made possible through donations and sponsorships. Many volunteers take their time to help bring this display together in the Gila Valley. The Lions Club hopes the community will take the time to walk the flag display as a way to show respect and remember all of our local servicemen and women.
Flags displayed along highway 70 are part of the Safford Lions Club Flag Project it is a program that leases flags to businesses or cities and towns. The Lions Club will install a flag holder and deliver the flags on display for 8 major holidays throughout the year. This year there will be approximately 53 flags along highway 70 and Safford Main street from the 8th of November to the 11th. Businesses and individuals may lease a flag display by calling the Flag Team chairperson Joe Arp at 928-322-3181.
“The colors of our flag signify the qualities of the human spirit we Americans cherish: red for courage and readiness to sacrifice; white for pure intentions and high ideals; and blue for vigilance and justice”. President Ronald Reagan