'It's a good way to remember important figures in our lives'

BRYAN EATON/Staff photo Exchange Club of Greater Newburyport members Barbara Griffin, left, and Kieran Joyce attach American flags to poles Wednesday so they can be posted on Bartlet Mall in Newburyport for the Field of Honor ceremony Sunday. The event honors all veterans, military personnel still serving, first responders, personal heroes and those who died in the 9/11 attacks.

NEWBURYPORT — Members of the local Exchange Club are making preparations for the annual Field of Honor presentation at the Bartlet Mall.

The event serves as an opportunity for the community to honor and memorialize all veterans, military participants, first responders and personal heroes, as well as those lost in the 9/11 attacks 16 years ago, organizers say.

A key goal is to raise money for causes the club supports, especially programs to prevent child abuse.

Ben Iacono, treasurer of the organization, said 330 flags will be flying.

Between now and Monday, donors can buy a flag for $40. They are then given the opportunity to provide an inscription, such as: "To my father, an Army veteran and great Dad."

A ceremony is scheduled for Sunday at noon when dedications will be read by a series of speakers.

"This is a good time for people to remember veterans, first responders, parents or other heroes in their lives," Iacono said. "Our sponsors buy the flags and those participating can keep the flags after the ceremony.

"It's a good way to remember important figures in our lives."

This is the eighth annual staging in this community. A registration desk at the mall will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Charles Cove, an officer in an organization called Peace Greeters, will be a key speaker Sunday. Peace Greeters is a group that welcomes military personnel as they return to New England, including at Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The presentation will remain active Monday. Visitors can mark the American losses that resulted from 9/11 by buying a flag, organizers say.

The Exchange Club is an all-volunteer national service organization for men and women "to serve their communities, develop leadership skills and enjoy new friendships." It also raises funds for numerous social causes.

It was founded in Toledo in 1917, and today there are 700 clubs and 25,000 members in the United States.

The club has been active in Newburyport for 42 years.

Exchange Club officers and members

* Officers of the Exchange Club in Newburyport are Joe Murphy, president; Stuart Deane, secretary; and Ben Iacono, treasurer.

* Board members are Barbara Griffith, Jim Noyes, Jane Collins and Erin Fournier.

* Members include Dick Aiken, Patty McGrath, Michael Viccaro, Christopher Allen, Claudette Beerman-Allen, Major Rosemarie Hughes, Ron LaPierre, Merle Forney, Kiernan Joyce, Kathleen Bailey, David Dylewski, Noyes, Iacono, Murphy, Fournier, Collins, Deane and Griffith.

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