Flag display in Punta Gorda honors heroes on Memorial Day

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
More than 500 flags were placed at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda to honor veterans on Memorial Day during the first “Healing Field of Honor” event in May 2021. Credit: WINK News..

Memorial Day is a time to honor our fallen heroes, and as the holiday weekend kicks off, a Southwest Florida city is doing just that.

More than 500 flags will be on display at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda for the inaugural year of its “Healing Field of Honor” event.

The display recognizes those who served our country during the Vietnam War, as well as other community heroes in people’s lives.

Many veterans who did return home from their service in Vietnam were not expecting how they would be received by communities.

“My welcome home was a nightmare,” veteran Thomas A. L. Kiepert said.

Kiepert remembers that pain, but he and veteran Kenneth Hagel refuse to forget those who didn’t return home.

“It’s super,” Hagel said. “It’s uplifting.”

“Look at what they’re doing here,” Kiepert said. “All of these flags honoring people that have given their lives.”

During Memorial Day in 2021, local heroes are getting the recognition they deserve.

The more than 500 flags on display at Laishley Park each have a tag acknowledging the country’s bravest men and women.

“Every flag has a story,” said Alyson Burch, the president-elect of Punta Gorda Rotary Club. “There’s a lot of fallen veterans acknowledged on these flags.”

While Memorial Day is meant to honor those who died serving our nation in the armed forces, Burch said the event is meant to thank any hero.

“There’s first responders, really anyone who’s just an everyday hero in our life,” Burch said.

People in the community bought the flags to honor a hero in their life.

“They have taken a very positive attitude,” Kiepert said.

The flags will be on display through Memorial Day.

“It’s heartwarming,” Hagel said. “I can’t say enough about what they’ve done here.”

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