NEWBURYPORT – "In memory of William V. Sheehan, U.S. Navy, World War II."
"In memory of Gerald Joseph LaBreque, we love and miss you, dad and granddad."
"In memory of Michael T. Roy, we love you."
Those loving words from family members were written next to three of the 330 American flags flying on Bartlet Mall as part of the eighth annual Greater Newburyport Field of Honor event.
The Field of Honor was founded by the Exchange Club of Greater Newburyport as a way to recognize those who served, died or in some way put their lives on the line during and after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
"Each one is a story by itself," Exchange Club member Ben Iacono said.
Iacono said of the 330 flags on display, more than 200 of them were bought for $40 each by companies, businesses and anyone who wanted to pay tribute to a loved one. Those still wishing to buy a flag can do so until Tuesday morning before they are dismantled.
Flags not purchased will be kept by the Exchange Club to be used for upcoming road races or donated to local veterans organizations, according to Iacono.
Iacono said he didn't think the United States would ever forget the horrific day now known throughout the world simply as 9/11 but the Field of Honor gives people an opportunity to stop and reflect.
"The visual is what is important," he said.
On Sept. 11, 2001, 2,996 people were killed – including 19 hijackers – when the terrorists commandeered four airplanes, crashing two into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the fourth into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers. All aboard were killed.
Among those speaking at the roughly hourlong ceremony were state Sen. Kathleen O'Connor Ives and Rep. James Kelcourse, and Mayor Donna Holaday.
Holaday mentioned local first responders Connor Clancy and Fred Elwell, along with local Coast Guard Commander Paul Rooney, who rushed to help with disaster relief aid, whether it's for wildfires or in the aftermath of a hurricane.
O'Connor Ives said it was her personal responsibility to obtain as much funding as she could to help area veterans. Her remarks also touched upon the possibility of the United States entering another war, saying it was society's responsibility to hold all federal officials accountable for their decisions that lead the country down that path.
Scheduled guest speaker Charles E. Cove of the Pease Greeters group was unable to attend due to illness. The nationally recognized Pease Greeters is an all-volunteer organization whose members travel to the former Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire and meet anyone deploying or returning from military service
Taking his place was another Pease Greeter and a World War II and Korean War veteran, Dick MacCallum. MacCallum spelled out the group's mission and what it meant for those in the military.
"We are so happy to do this for the troops and the DoD (Department of Defense)," MacCallum said.
Shortly before the noon ceremony, Michael T. Roy's wife, Nancy Roy, was spotted with her son Matt Roy taking photos of family members near her husband's flag.
"Oh, my God, he would be very honored as are we," Nancy Roy said.
Michael Roy, the namesake of Michael's Harborside, longtime owner of Haley's Ice Cream, supporter of Anna Jaques Hospital and a former U.S. Army counterintelligence agent, died Jan. 13.
"It's still so fresh," Nancy Roy said. "It's like another grieving day."