ELKHART — City Center Park in downtown Elkhart was adorned with more than 200 flags as part of the sixth Flags From the Heart display over Memorial Day weekend.
Brian Thomas, who organizes the annual display, said the 218 flags this year represented the largest number to date.
Thomas noted that 210 of those flags were dedications from citizens, while the eight flags lining the front row honored the city, state, country and various branches of the military.
Thomas said there has been a slight increase in the number of flags each year, as the event gets around through word-of-mouth.
Initially, the event mainly attracted dedications for military veterans, but has grown to include dedications to all types of people.
“There’s dedications out there now to just about any genre of person, place, or thing,” he explained. “It’s just ‘in memory of ...’”
Approximately half of the flags are new dedications, while the rest are renewals from previous years. Thomas said a few of the flags have even been flown each of the six years the display has taken place.
The open, unstructured atmosphere allows visitors a serene, contemplative environment to appreciate and meditate on the display. “It’s all just a very passive, silent, serene ceremony,” Thomas said.
A group of Boy Scouts also held a flag retiring ceremony at the park Sunday in conjunction with Flags From the Heart.
The idea for Flags From the Heart was born during Memorial Day weekend several years ago, when Thomas and his wife were traveling through Alma, Mich., and stumbled upon a similar flag display.
The Thomases brought the idea home with them and have been organizing the event each year since.
In previous years, Thomas led an independent committee in organizing the display. This year, the Elkhart Lions Club assisted in the organization of the flags.
“It’s just a way of reminding people of what Memorial Day is all about, other than just picnics or the first day of the summer,” Thomas said.
While there will not be an official ceremony held at City Center Park on Monday, May 26, as part of the city’s Memorial Day festivities, most of the flags will remain up through the afternoon until about 5 p.m. for those who wish to stop by to take in the display.