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Healing Field's flags are arriving
By Stephanie Penick | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/28/2009 12:01 AM

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Nearly 11 months ago the Naperville Healing Field of Honor Committee, coordinated by the Exchange Club of Naperville and the Naperville Park District, was organized with a wide range of community volunteers.

The weeklong event will feature 2,009 American flags set on Rotary Hill along Naperville's Riverwalk, in conjunction with Veterans Day, Nov. 8-14.

All proceeds from flag sales will go to Operation Support Our Troops - Illinois to help fund unmet needs of veterans for a Fisher House at Hines VA Hospital.

One of my simple tasks was to work with Tom Cox to help design hang tags that will be tied to the 8-foot flag poles with yellow ribbon. Each tag holds a commemorative message written by the flag donor, remembrances that Anna Zimmerman and her daughter have been inscribing with indelible markers on the tags.

Another of my duties was to order 2,009 yards of yellow ribbon, figuring it will take one yard to tie on each hang tag with a respectable-looking bow.

Let me repeat 2,009 because we've had a difficult time making it perfectly clear that the cost of all 2,009 flags has been underwritten by generous supporters.

When folks continue to ask how many individual flags have been sold, we patiently answer that we have about 500 individual orders. Then we reiterate that the cost has been covered for all 2,009 flags, as promised.

In fact, 2,009 American flags already have arrived and they will create a spectacular field of red, white and blue for peaceful reflection. Last week, 60 volunteers assembled 1,510 flags, now waiting in storage on a flatbed to be planted on Rotary Hill.

From 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, another 500 flags will be attached to their poles. To volunteer, call Kathleen Malecki at (630) 281-1816 or e-mail

What's more, Jack Shiffler is arranging for a police and fire department escort with a little "rolling thunder" to deliver the flatbed to Rotary Hill beginning at 11 a.m. Nov. 6.

All 2,009 American flags will travel through downtown to meet up with volunteers who sign up to set the flags, row by row, starting at noon.

Additional volunteer shifts are scheduled for Nov. 6 and 7, throughout the event and for take down Nov. 15.

I knew things were falling into place when a large box containing 334 6-yard spools of yellow ribbon arrived Saturday - that's one load off my mind.

We've been asked many questions about the Healing Field, some of which we can't answer quite yet for this first-time event.

Folks are working on logistics, planning places for tour buses to park at Rotary Hill for the ease and safety of visitors. Officials at Naperville Central High School are working with Chairman Dave Wentz to help with visitor parking on Veterans Day.

You'll find the tentative event schedule and flag order forms at The Web site will be updated by Nov. 6.

If anyone thinks we're putting you off by not replying to your query immediately, I'd like to submit, "Thanks for your patience."

Patience please

Speaking of which, all last week I was working on a project, trying to coordinate a bunch of things while also hoping to fit in several special events. By noon Wednesday, I discovered there just wasn't time for half the things on my list.

And I wasn't the only person running behind.

Nearly every e-mail ended with a request for more time and "Thanks for your patience."

By Friday, "Thanks for your patience" had become the top closing remark for the week.

Then Saturday, I found myself standing in line at an office supply store waiting to pay for a ream of paper.

I killed time, checking out and resisting every point-of-purchase item strategically placed near the cash register, while two sales associates, along with the store manager, tried to help the woman in front of me figure out how to replace the ink pad on her address stamp.

When it was finally my turn, both of the sales associates looked at me and said in unison, "Thanks for your patience."

I replied, "It's a virtue."

Only one of them chuckled.