News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 10, 2009

More than 250 flags placed to honor veterans

Annual observance recognizes the sacrifice of servicemen and women

ROCKVILLE — Blustery winds and an overcast sky could not darken the American pride displayed Tuesday at the Rockville Correctional Facility.

The third annual Field of Flags Veterans Day observance recognized the sacrifice of servicemen and women while also raising funds for the Family Military Relief Fund.

More than 250 American flags in the lawn outside the front entryway have been placed to honor those in the military from the community. The Indiana Department of Correction facility has seven staff members actively serving with reserve and guard units. Another 38 staff members also have served in the military.

The ceremony was witnessed by veterans organizations from Clinton and Rockville, and active service members from the Indiana National Guard battalion from just down the road.

“I’m happy they put on something like this for the community,” Sgt. Steve Russell said. “Being a veteran, it’s nice to see this.”

Russell and fellow Sgt. Rodger Smith, who attended the service with his family, both served a year in Iraq. They were assigned to convoy security, a dangerous duty considering the number of roadside bombs that have injured American troops serving in Iraq.

“I appreciate the support from the local community, just for doing my job,” Russell said.

The program has grown in attendance each year, said organizer Rita Steed, who is the facility’s community service director.

The first year, 50 flags were set up to honor veterans. This year, that number grew to more than 250. And, thanks to a last-minute donation by the Parke County Veterans Organization, the donation to the Indiana Department of Veterans Affair’s family relief fund exceeded $450.

“I am just thrilled to see all of these veterans coming,” Steed said. “We’re glad to do this to honor them.”

Flags have been sponsored by Department of Correction staff, as well as by local residents. The flags will remain on display through Monday.

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