By Connor Beach
Hundreds of flags adorn the front lawn of Huntington Town Hall, marking the continuation of a philanthropic tradition to honor the town’s veterans.
The Kiwanis Club of Huntington sponsors the patriotic “Field of Honor,” which has marked the beginning of fall in Huntington for eight years. Individual flags in the display can be purchased for $35 each and are usually dedicated to a past or presently serving veteran, according to the Chairman of the Field of Honor Committee for the Kiwanis Club Dr. Daniel Picard.
The flags are raised around Sept. 11, and they come down around Dec. 7 to commemorate the anniversaries of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. The flags are returned to those who purchase them during a January ceremony at Honu in Huntington.
The money raised by the Huntington branch of the international Kiwanis organization goes towards helping local residents in need. Picard said the Kiwanis Club helps organize Christmas shopping for 60 children from struggling families in Huntington, they pay for local kids to attend the Kiwanis summer camp and they work with the town’s veteran’s affairs committee to improve the resources available for vets.
“We are a nonprofit; the money we raise from the flags helps fund projects for underprivileged kids,” Picard said.
The Field of Honor is made possible by the spirit of giving in Huntington, according to Picard. Each flag that is donated is decorated with gold ribbons that display letters of dedication from loved ones about the veterans. Picard said, “It absolutely encourages a spirit of community and we need more of it.”
Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said that it is not unusual for Huntington residents to step forward in times of need. In the recent months and weeks, the response of Huntington residents to the massive hardships created by the hurricanes in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands exemplifies their philanthropic nature.
“There is fundraising that takes place by our foundations, cultural groups and religious groups to raise money for people in need," Petrone said. "Our town has a great history of doing that. I’m hearing great stories of fire departments sending supplies down to Texas and other groups of residents traveling down there."
Many Huntington residents who find themselves in the position to help others do not let the opportunity pass them by. The town has a vast number of community organizations, 14 volunteer fire and rescue departments and clubs like the Kiwanis through which people voluntarily donate their hard-earned money and time to the community.
“Whether it’s our churches or our not-for-profit groups, there is a tremendous spirit of giving in this town,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson said. “I think it’s in part because we feel so privileged; there is a lot of wealth in this town, but I think those who have a lot are cognizant of that and want to share the wealth.”
Those interested in dedicating a flag in the Field of Honor can log on to Buyaflag.org.
Donations for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico can be dropped off at the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center at 1264 New York Ave. in Huntington from 9 a.m-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.