As you crest the hill alongside Old Hill Cemetery, or turn from High Street onto Pond Street, the sight can take your breath away. Every September, more than 300 full-sized American flags fill the Bartlet Mall, each standing in honor of the fallen of September 11, 2001, or any member of the American military and emergency services. The flags sway gently in the breeze, almost in unison, a bright reminder of the cost of freedom, and the pride borne of solidarity in times of struggle.
The year 2019 marks the 10th annual Field of Honor, presented by the Exchange Club of Greater Newburyport, a service organization focusing on youth service, general community service, the prevention of child abuse, and the promotion of American ideals. Since its inception in 2010, the Field of Honor has become a signature Newburyport event, drawing veterans and civilians from near and far to observe and pay their respects. The flags may even be clearly seen at night, with illumination provided by the Newburyport Fire Department.
Flags can be purchased for $40 at the Field of Honor on the Bartlet Mall., often the Friday through Sunday preceding 9/11. Participants are encouraged to include a written dedication with each flag. The Exchange Club holds a ceremony on the nearest Sunday with speakers, live music, and a “verbal wall” reading of the flag dedications. The flags will remain in place until Sept. 11 when their owners can retrieve and keep them.