In 2016, the Erie Niagara Sunrise Exchange Club sponsored the first Healing Field in North Tonawanda. The event was so successful, the group has scheduled another for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The Healing Field is a memorial to those who lost their lives on that day. Each of 3,000 flags to be planted Sept. 10-12, 2021 will be sponsored in honor of an individual who was killed on 9/11 and feature a short biography.
“This undertaking was a great success for the Erie Niagara Sunrise Exchange Club and we look forward to replicating,” said Ron Sciandra, vice president of the Exchange Club and 2016 event chairman. “The event is a great event, volunteer coordinated and, therefore, the Sunrise Exchange Club is looking for others in Western New York to help us make this another huge success.”
Each flag will need a local sponsor whose name will be tagged to the flag. A sponsor can be anyone. When the event is over, sponsors will keep the flags.
“When we brought up the idea of doing another 2021 Memorial Field, many communities wanted to latch on and said, ‘We want to sponsor that, we want to do that!’ But because North Tonawanda was such a great host in 2016, we said, ‘We’re going to hold it right here in 2021 because North Tonawanda was such a great partner with us.’ What I’d like to do is show you a flag,” Alderman-at-Large and 2016 Program Director Robert Pecoraro said. “Each flag has a tag of a bio of somebody who was actually killed during the attacks on 9/11.”
“It takes about 150 volunteers to install the field, it takes about three hours to put up 3,000 American flags. Part of that is constructing the flags, which is about a six-hour project. We’d do that inside of warehouse or a school and we need people to help us put all the pieces together,” Sciandra said. “It’s a big community project. We had a lot of volunteers show up five years ago to help us put the program together, and we’re looking forward to a lot of support in 2021.”
“There’s a whole generation of people who don’t understand what took place at 9/11,” Pecoraro said. “We’re doing it to honor and remember, and let us never forget those who have sacrificed for our freedoms.”