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Locals help assemble flags for 9/11 Healing Field

Christopher Dornblaser
505-5436/@YDDornblaser

About 75 people came out to the West Manheim Township building Saturday morning to help assemble flags — 3,000 flags, to be exact.

Debbie Griffis, of New Oxford, passes down a flag pole during the Flag Assembly for the Fifteen Year 9/11 Healing Field event Saturday at the West Manheim Township building. The event will be on display Sept. 9-17 at the West Manheim Elementary School. Amanda J. Cain photo

The flags are meant to be placed on West Manheim Elementary School's 15 Year 9/11 Healing Field, and each flag is supposed to represent a person killed during the Sept. 11 terror attacks. All the flags will be displayed from Sept. 9 through Sept. 17. The flagpoles are 8 feet tall, and the flags are 3 feet by 5 feet.

The Exchange Club of Hanover raised money to purchase the flags, which were delivered to the township building. The volunteers were part of an assembly line, with workers at one table putting the gold topper and O-rings on the pole, which was then handed down to another table where workers attached the flag and then passed it to the final table, where volunteers wrapped the flags around the poles.

The attacks and community: Mike Hawkins, of Hanover, was helping Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 118 assemble flags.

Hawkins said many of the Scouts helping were either not born yet or too young to remember 9/11.

"It's definitely important to understand our heritage and history," he said.

Carolyn Carpenter, of Littlestown, was helping assemble the first portions of the flags with Gary Reed, of West Manhiem Township. Both agreed it was important for the younger generation to learn about the attacks and be involved in the flag assembly.

"It makes them part of something bigger. It's about our nation and our freedom," she said, adding that the lives lost in the wars since 9/11 showed them that freedom is not free.

While Carpenter was there assisting because her son was volunteering with his Boy Scout troop, Reed, who said he was a patriot, volunteered to be part of the community.

"I don't have a problem giving my time," he said.

Healing ceremony: Program chair Billy Wineholt said the group did the healing field in 2011 for the 10th anniversary of the attacks. He said the exchange club decided to do it again after so many people asked for it.

Wineholt said each flag will have a name and biography for each person who died. People may sponsor a flag for $25. All the proceeds will go to helping local EMS and firefighters, Wineholt said.

"All we get is the satisfaction of doing this," Wineholt said.

The flags will be placed on Sept. 9 and, on Sept. 11, at the time the first plane struck the World Trade Center, all the names of the victims will be read. Wineholt said following the name readings, 3,000 balloons will be released into the sky. After the flags are taken down, those who sponsored them will get to keep them. Their names will be included on the back of the biography card.

Hawkins said he saw the flags last time they were placed at the school.

"It's really a beautiful sight," he said.

For more information, check the Exchange Club's website at www.hanoverexchangeclub.com.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.