Hundreds gather at Freeman Park for Memorial Day

Brad Gard and his son Ethan, 3, walk through the flags during the Field of Honor Memorial at Freeman Park on Monday afternoon. Ethan’s mom said they like walking through the flags and remembering those who died for our country. Taylor Carpenter /

Gene Summers, of Idaho Falls, looks at flags during the Field of Honor Memorial at Freeman Park on Monday afternoon. Summers was a machinist mate first class in the U.S. Navy. Taylor Carpenter /

Asa Bristol, 2, reaches to a flag during the Field of Honor Memorial at Freeman Park on Monday afternoon. Asa’s grandmother was teaching him to say “I love America” when he sees a flag. Taylor Carpenter /

Gene Summers paced between rows of flags Monday at Freeman Park thinking about veterans he knew, and some he didn’t.

Several hundred others attended the fifth annual Field of Honor Memorial to do the same. One thousand flags were raised at Freeman; many of their poles carried yellow ribbons and tags with the names of veterans.

Summers was a U.S. Navy submarine mechanic from 1981 to ’95. He retired as a machinist mate first class, and attended Monday’s event in uniform, as did many others from the local American Legion Post 56.

Several flags bore the names of veterans Summers knew from the post. Many have died since returning from service.

Summers also thought of veterans who never got a chance to return.

“This weekend is for the people who lost their lives, and aren’t coming home. They never got to take the uniform off. They never got to put their feet back on American soil,” Summers said. “This is our chance to say thanks to all the people we’ve lost.”

The Field of Honor featured scheduled memorial events all weekend, including readings of names, chorus and pipe band performances, speeches and other presentations.

Attendees found shade where they could Monday during a warm, sunny afternoon.

The flags surrounding them featured the names of veterans from a range of conflicts, including some who served as early as the American-Indian Wars. Flags bearing the names of Medal of Honor recipients featured blue ribbons with stars.

People cycled in and out of Freeman all day to walk the grounds, or view the stainless steel Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which bears the names of 251 Idahoans who died during the conflict.

Many eventually gathered around the stage for a noon presentation.

After opening ceremonies, Mayor Rebecca Casper spoke. She urged everyone in attendance to remember those who served, and to seek out their stories.

“May you find many ways to remember on this Memorial Day, to give thanks for the American liberties that we enjoy, for the blessings of living in this country,” Casper said. “And maybe show your thanks in some way to someone who served, and listen to their stories.”

There were many groups in attendance, some with veterans in their immediate family, and some without.

KayDee Singleton visited with her family to commemorate the service of both her grandfathers. Earlier, she placed flowers on her grandparents’ graves.

“It’s something you do to remember those who came before you, to celebrate them and the sacrifices they made. Not just your family but all other service members from this country,” Singleton said.

Reporter Kevin Trevellyan can be reached at 542-6762.