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Mon, June 24

Completed Healing Field a testimony to caring community

Prescott Valley Councilwoman Mary Mallory loves her country, and its flag.

When Mallory in 2012 saw the extensive Healing Field at Tempe Town Lake, she was inspired to present the concept to the Prescott Valley town council, with the help of Deputy Town Manager Ryan Judy. Council offered the Civic Center grounds as Prescott Valley's Healing Field location.

Hundreds of communities across the nation have set up Healing Fields/Fields of Honor as tributes of honor, celebration, civic pride and education.

With the support of local businesses and organizations, the town unveiled a field of 1,000 American flags during its 9-11 observance in 2012. With the backdrop of the Civic Center's green lawns, and accompaniment of bagpipe music, it was a breathtaking sight and awe-inspiring experience.

But Mallory and community members didn't stop there. "The goal is to buy 3,000 flags, representing each person who died on 9-11," Mallory said in 2012.

On Sept. 11, 2013, as the country observes the twelfth anniversary of the day terrorists hijacked and flew planes into the World Trade Centers in Manhattan, New York, the Pentagon, and crashed another plane in Pennsylvania when passengers stormed the cockpit, Prescott Valley will join in another very special observance, this time with 3,000 flags, and 20 more to honor the Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, and survivor Brendan McDonough.

Sept. 11, 2001 touched all of us, and many who experienced the tragedy firsthand have found their way to Prescott Valley's field of flags.

One of those was Prescott Valley resident Willie Phelan, a former resident of Long Island, New York. Driving by the Prescott Valley Civic Center last year, Phelan noticed the 1,000 American flags on the grounds between the police department and town hall. He asked someone what the display was about, and they explained that the flags were a memorial to those who lost their lives on 9-11.

Phelan watched on television as the first plane hit one World Trade Center tower, and then had to leave for work. He didn't have radio reception at work near Paulden, so he didn't hear the rest of the story until he arrived home that day. Then he heard that his friend Brian Ahern, a fireman who worked near Ground Zero, had died in the line of duty.

A former resident of Huntington, Long Island, Phelan attended high school with Ahern. They played football and partied together and became close friends.

When he visited the Healing Field last year, volunteers told Phelan where he could find the flag that bore his friend's name, and he spent some time in remembrance.

Choking up as he looked at Brian Ahern's name on the flag, he said in amazement, "His name reached here (from New York)."

That's what Prescott Valley's Healing Field is all about, and no doubt is what the volunteers who gave of their time and money to see the dream come to fruition had hoped for.

At 8:40 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, the public is invited to an opening ceremony event for the completed Healing Field.

Come out and see what a community that works together can accomplish.

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