MEDFORD >> Because of this year’s COVID-19 crisis, members of Medford Sunrise Rotary opted to forgo the plan to seek sponsorships for the Burlington County Field of Honor display during the week of Memorial Day, and instead created a drive-thru display of 200 full-size American flags at Freedom Park, honoring not only veterans, active military and first responders, but also healthcare providers and essential workers on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.

In 2019, the first year for the Field of Honor, members of the public were able to sponsor flags in honor of hometown heroes, including veterans, active military members and first responders.) Each evening during the 2019 display, residents gathered to hear as the names of the heroes were solemnly read, followed by a live performance of Taps.

Rotary president Susan Miller said she and her fellow Rotarians felt strongly about doing something to bring the community together during this difficult time. “Because of social distancing rules, we came up with a plan for a drive-thru display at the park, starting on Memorial Day Weekend and lasting through the week following,” Miller said. “I have to say, we’ve had a wonderful response from the community. Some visitors have even left donations - more than $300 so far - in a lock-box at the Freedom Park site. It’s been very heart-warming.”

Last year’s Field of Honor display raised close to $3,000, which Medford Sunrise Rotary earmarked for organizations that support veterans, active military and first responders.

In recent months, Miller presented a check in the amount of $1,000 to Jack Funari of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, an organization that honors the sacrifice of a firefighter who laid down his life to save others on Sept. 11, 2001. Tunnel to Towers also supports military families and first responders.

Also, a $1,000 contribution was made to Semper Fido, a Marlton-based non-profit organization committed to the rehabilitation of service members and veterans who have been injured in the line of duty and have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Karen Monaghan of Semper Fido visited the Rotary’s breakfast meeting in February and explained that using dogs for mental as well as physical rehabilitation can greatly benefit these warriors’ recovery.

And David Silver of Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey received a donation of $1,000 for the organization’s mission to provide care packages to the Troops. (Photo 2)

The 200-flag drive-thru display will be at Freedom Park in Medford through May 30. For information on next year’s Burlington County Field of Honor display or to donate, reach out at medfordsunriserotary@gmail.com.

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