“This is the 12th year we’ve done it, and we’ve raised over $70,000 for local veterans’ organizations. We put 300-plus American flags on our front lawn, and get corporate or business sponsorships, and some individual sponsorships, and we donate all that money to local veterans’ organizations,” said Frank Lewis, the local organizer for the display.
Frank Lewis, the local organizer for the display, is the owner of Jackson, Lytle & Lewis Life Celebration Center, and Walter & Lewis Funeral & Cremation Services.
The flags also made an appearance recently in Urbana as well, prior to the Memorial Day weekend, to honor health care professionals working through COVID-19 for First Responders Day.
The memorial display is an extension of the Colonial Flag Foundation’s Healing Field, a national foundation that fundraises in efforts to help veterans, support families of those who serve, and reach out to help communities in need.
“It’s rewarding to do something that is meaningful. People say they see it and look forward to it every year, and we’re just gonna keep doing it. We obviously have a heart for veterans, and it’s great to be able to build support for them in our community financially as well,” Lewis said.
“At the Honor Field in Springfield for veterans, we used to have an opening event, ‘Lunch with a Veteran,’ we didn’t do it last year because of COVID, but this year we’re doing it again, but with some adjustments because of COVID-19. We’ll be doing such events outdoors under a tent inside of indoors to facilitate some amount of social distancing, obviously it’ll be better to be in open air and not in a confined area,” said Lewis.
However, there has not been an impact by the pandemic on the fundraising itself, as the community continues to support those who have served the nation.
“People are still interested in helping those organizations, and the people who have been doing it are often the same people year after year after year. We get new donors every now and then, but it’s pretty consistent,” he said.
Lewis is hopeful for a return of in-person activities to run during the display dates.
“We usually have seating ready for about 120 people, so we’ll just see how many people are comfortable enough to come out and participate. We’ve got tent space for as many as we’ve had in the past, so we’ll just have to see what happens,” said Lewis.
For more information about the Healing Field, please visit its Facebook page.