‘9-11 Parade of 1,000 Flags’ set to march

‘9-11 Parade of 1,000 Flags’ set to march By LAURA QUEZADA

News Review Staff Writer

On 9/11 our town will again be dressed in red, white and blue. We will wave our flags as a tribute to our belief and our values of God and country. The Parade of 1,000 Flags takes on special significance as this year marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on American soil. The parade and its program is a time to honor, educate, and unite around a shared experience. “Why do we remember 9/11?” asks Pat Farris, Publisher of the News Review. She answers, “Being the 20th year a lot of our young people weren’t alive but they need to know because this was one of the darkest days in American history. The World Trade Center was brought down when hit by two enemy controlled planes. The Pentagon was also hit. Almost 3,000 lives were lost that day. It is important that we who remember the day impart this story in a meaningful way to those who were not yet born so they can have some understanding of the price of freedom and the cost of lives.”

Scott O’Neil, Executive Director of the Indian Wells Valley Economic Development Corporation (IWVEDC) agrees, “I think this is a special year, it is because of the 20th anniversary of the tragic event, the attack on our country. We need to make sure we show our respect on this anniversary. In these times we don’t need division, we need unity. And so these events can help us grow together and remember what is important to us and to our country.”

Before it became a parade the remembrance featured a Field of 1,000 Flags started by the Exchange Club in 2005. Farris recalls, “They posted the flags but people didn’t realize they were there and it wasn’t getting the community participation that was anticipated. I thought, ‘If we can get 1,000 people to carry flags, there would be 1,000 people who knew about the remembrance field.’ That seemed like a sizeable task, but I thought if we could get one hundred people to sponsor rows of ten, that would be 1,000.” Putting her organizational skills to work Farris was able to obtain the volunteers needed to make this vision a reality. This year marks the thirteenth year of the parade which was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

In true Ridgecrest community fashion, when the Exchange Club knew they would not be able to sponsor this year due to their disbanding, Farris who had been the chair of the parade, felt it was important to continue this tradition. She said she would reach out to the community for partnership. She reached out to the IWVEDC and without hesitation they stepped up and took over the coordination of the event in partnership with The News Review. “We thought it was a significant event for the community and so we decided we should not let it die,” says O’Neil, adding, “I think it is a great event to remember those who were tragically harmed in that particular attack, but it is also important for us to remember those who sacrificed and responded to the tragedy. Just like we always do in America. We always stand up. That doesn’t just happen on these kinds of events, but every day in country our first responders are out there trying to help people, to help make our country safer, to help keep our communities safe. So this is our way of remembering their importance to our communities and to say, ‘Thanks.’”

This is a patriotic community born somewhat out of our sense of mission with China Lake and China Lake participates in this event.

“With what we are seeing in so many communities in this country, the chaos and lack of a sense of patriotism and love for country. This is what sets us apart. The growing enthusiasm in this spectacular event and the fervor of patriotism in this community has captured the interest of dignitaries and folks from other communities near and far. One year our keynote speaker was an injured soldier who served in Iraq. He made the statement, ‘If every community did this in this country, it would change the world.’” Another year an Admiral remarked, “I’ve never seen this many flags in one place.”

The parade begins at 9am, starting at the parking lot in front of the old bowling alley on China Lake Boulevard, continuing to California Boulevard, and then onto Freedom Park at City Hall. Leading the parade is a Bagpipe Band with drums, followed by political leaders and first responders. Then comes the Burroughs Marching Band followed by the 1,000 flag bearers who are from community service organizations, veterans organizations, scouts, schools, and churches. There are folks in wheelchairs and people pushing baby strollers. A short program is held at Freedom Park. Farris says, “After the flags are posted we become a choir of 1,000 voices singing God Bless America.”

Unity is one of the themes of the remembrance, “When we are lining up the program, we will be encouraging all those who speak to keep their comments on the remembrance of this tragic event and to keep it non-political. We also think that is important, too. In these times we don’t need division, we need unity. And so these events can help us grow together and remember what is important to us and to our country.” says O’Neil.

“We are encouraging people to get involved by participating. We want to make it special this year,” says Rebecca McCourt, Assistant Director to the Executive Director of the IWVEDC. “Organizations and individual volunteers, we would love to have them come and help with the set up the morning of the parade and take down on Monday. Contact us here at 760-385-8811, email: info@iwv-edc.com or on our website https://iwv-edc.com/.” Farris says, “ If anyone wants to be a flag bearer and they are not called with another group, please call the News Review at 760-371-3740 and we will make sure you get lined up.”

Farris says, “We are so divided right now. We are supposed to be one nation united and that is what we celebrate: we are one nation united under God. In this community we support our law enforcement, we believe we are the greatest country.” .”on earth and we want to do everything we can to preserve and instill it in the hearts of our children as we offer them this experience.”

News Review file photo: Community patriots paraded America’s Colors across the courtyard of Ridgecrest’s City Hall into Freedom Park in September 2019. Over a thousand took part in the Ridgecrest Exchange Club’s 18th Annual “Parade of 1000 Flags” march.

Story First Published: 2021-07-30