SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – South Plainfield resident Hannah Rhoads, 16, with the backing of the Boyle Memorial Foundation, will host an inaugural Field of Honor in the borough during Armed Forces Week 2017. Part of a national movement run by the non-profit Colonial Flag Foundation (CFF), the event will celebrate the United States and pay tribute to all servicemen and women, veterans and first responders.

Order forms for individual flag purchases will be posted on the South Plainfield Field of Honor Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/238228226597162/), among other places, beginning Jan. 15; various sponsorship opportunities are also available and will run through Jan. 31.

In July 2016, Bedminster, NJ hosted the state’s first Field of Honor event with over 200 American flags dedicated and erected at the town’s River Road Park. Among the adopted flags was one in memory of Hannah’s late brother, Ryan T. Rhoads, an active duty Army specialist who passed away on May 21, 2015.

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“My cousin called to say she had dedicated a flag in honor of Ryan. We had never heard of this program before and I went with my family to see the display,” said Hannah. “It gave me goose bumps as we drove up to it. It was awesome to see all these flags flying together. Then we walked the rows to find Ryan’s flag and cried.” 

In July, Hannah wrote a letter to South Plainfield Mayor Matt Anesh explaining that she would like to personally host a Field of Honor in her hometown. During an Aug. 30 meeting, she showed him a short video about the initiative and presented her idea for hosting one in South Plainfield during Armed Forces Week 2017. The mayor offered Hannah suggestions and promised his support and, during a Nov. 14 council meeting, Hannah's mother Barbara publicly discussed the project. 

The Field of Honor will feature at least 150 three by five foot United States flags flying on eight-foot poles in and around Monument Park beginning Sunday, May 14 and concluding with a small ceremony on Saturday, May 20 – Armed Forces Day.

Residents of South Plainfield and the surrounding communities can purchase a flag in honor of veterans, active military personnel, fallen soldiers, and first responders. Flags, created by CFF, are $40 a piece. Each flag will include a laminated dedication tag with up to a three-line sentiment. At the end of the week, the flags will go to the purchaser. Forms for individuals looking to dedicate a flag at the South Plainfield event will be available in January.

In addition to serving as a patriotic tribute to the men and women who have or currently defend our country, the Field of Honor will also benefit the South Plainfield Department of Social Services. Proceeds from sponsorships – four different options are available to businesses, organizations and individuals – will go to the South Plainfield Food Pantry.

“We chose the food pantry because summer is a time they run out of food; in the fall, they get an abundance of donations but then it peters out again in the late spring. Our donation will come in time for summer,” said Hannah, noting that her personal goal is to raise $2,500 for the food pantry.

“My mom told me that while they get canned and boxed goods that last a while there is also a need for gift cards and cash for perishable foods,” she said. “We will provide that.”

Field of Honor sponsorships are as follows: Hero Sponsor ($1,000) – includes 7 flag kits, logo recognition on event banner and posters and in event program, and recognition on website and South Plainfield Observer and TAPinto South Plainfield; Freedom Sponsor ($750) – includes 5 flag kits, logo recognition on banner and posters at event, and recognition on website and South Plainfield Observer and TAPinto South Plainfield; Liberty Sponsor ($500) – includes 3 flag kits and recognition in event program and on website as well as in South Plainfield Observer and TAPinto South Plainfield; and Citizen Sponsor ($250) –includes 1 flag kit and recognition in event program and on website as well as in South Plainfield Observer and TAPinto South Plainfield.

For more information about the May 2017 South Plainfield Field of Honor or to purchase a flag, make a donation, or become a sponsor, contact Barbara Rhoads at 908-295-8748. Contributions are tax deductible. Additionally, checks can be sent to Barbara Rhoads, 1820 Eganey Street, South Plainfield, NJ. Please note that checks and money orders must be made payable to the ‘Boyle Memorial Foundation’ with ‘Field of Honor’ noted in memo line.

About the Colonial Flag Foundation and the Field of Honor

The Colonial Flag Foundation is a Utah-based 501(c)(3) non-profit that assists other charities, causes and community awareness issues in making their message and needs known through patriotic displays of flags and memorials.

Back in 2001, Paul Swenson organized a Healing Field memorial event as a way to heal America and commemorate the lives of those lost in the September 11th terrorist attacks. The first Healing Field took place in 2002 with Swenson committing his resources and energy to forming a foundation that would assist other communities looking to host similar events. Over the past 14 years, hundreds of communities across America have hosted Healing Fields or Fields of Honor to raise money and awareness for a growing array of causes. 

The Healing Field display is the premiere program of Colonial Flag Foundation. It is utilized by a wide variety of civic, service and other non-profit organizations to generate awareness and educate the public on issues that are important to them. The program is also used as a means to raise funds for the hosting organization or another cause important to the community.

Since the first Healing Field, the programs of Colonial Flag Foundation have expanded beyond healing memorials to include moving tributes of honor, celebration, civic pride, education and more. The Field of Honor is the natural result of that growth. Like the Healing Field, the Field of Honor display is utilized by a wide variety of civic, service and other non-profit organizations to generate awareness and educate the public on issues that are important to them. The program is also used as a means to raise funds for the hosting organization or another cause important to the community.

“These special displays of fields of American flags have helped to honor the sacrifice of our service men and women, raise awareness for the tragedy of child abuse or domestic violence, honor veterans past and present, raise awareness for heart disease and cancer and more,” states the foundation’s website. “From Patriot Day to Veterans' Day to declaring your own day to honor those currently serving in the armed forces, Healing Fields and Fields of Honor are making a difference all across this land.”

For additional information the Colonial Flag Foundation and its Healing Field and Field of Honor programs, visit http://www.healingfield.org. To keep up-to-date with the South Plainfield Field of Honor, or to purchase a flag or be a sponsor, follow ‘2017 Field of Honor, South Plainfield, NJ’ on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/238228226597162/.

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