MAPLE PARK – Rudy Keller has never served in the armed forces, but he said he is thankful and appreciative of all those who have served and risked their life for their country.
To honor those men and women this Memorial Day, Keller is organizing an event at Kaneland High School that he says won't be short on patriotism.
"We believe we'll be the most patriotic community in the Midwest for this Memorial Day weekend," said Keller, the school's interim athletic director.
In addition to lining a stretch of Keslinger Road with American flags, Keller – with help from volunteers – will set up a Healing Field on the Kaneland High School campus along Keslinger Road in Maple Park.
The Healing Field will feature 1,000 3-by-5-foot U.S. flags aligned in "perfectly straight" rows that people can purchase for $35, Keller said.
"Then each flag becomes a story in itself," he said, explaining those who buy a flag can write a message to veterans or military personnel on a tag and attach it to the flag.
The Healing Field opens at 10 a.m. May 23 and will be open to visitors 24 hours a day through May 27, Keller said.
"I thought it'd be a perfect opportunity to do something to respect our military, our veterans, all those who serve and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to honor Memorial Day in this very patriotic fashion," Keller said.
Events are scheduled throughout the weekend, including a daily flag-raising ceremony at 6 a.m. – except on May 23 – and a daily flag lowering ceremony at 8 p.m., Keller said.
The opening ceremony is set for 10 a.m. May 24 and will feature patriotic music and guest speakers, Keller said. He noted musical performances are planned for 1 p.m. May 24 and May 25.
The May 26 Memorial Day ceremony is set for noon. Participants include the Maple Park American Legion, Elburn American Legion, Sugar Grove American Legion and the high school marching band, Keller said. A wreath-laying ceremony also is planned, he said.
The event is mostly being financed through individual flag purchases, Keller said, but there are also opportunities for small business and corporate sponsorships – $500 and $1,000, respectively – available to help offset the cost.
Those wanting to volunteer should contact Keller at Rudy.Keller@kaneland.org.
Visit www.healingfield.org/kaneland14 for information about the Healing Field planned for May 23 to May 27 at Kaneland High School, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park.