North Carolina Scout troops camp out, watch over American flag display

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The Boy Scouts of Mooresville, North Carolina, are spending their nights this week guarding more than 600 American flags that line one of the town’s fields. 

On Thursday, the scouts from Troop 171 were on guard, just three days before the Fourth of July holiday

Several of the more than 130 Eagle Scouts spoke with WBTV to explain what the duty meant to them. 

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“I think it’s going to make me think of these guys that help serve and protect us from all of the dangers of the world.” scout Aedan Klein told the station. 

The annual “Field of Flags” event is hosted by the local Lowe’s YMCA in partnership with the Exchange Club of Mooresville and Lake Norman.

This year marks the sixth consecutive event at the Lowe’s YMCA, though the Exchange Club has been hosting the Iredell County event since 2005.

In addition to the hundreds of American flags on the field which were planted to honor service members – arranged in a “perfect grid” that the Boy Scouts helped to set up –  there are also 18 Child Abuse Prevention flags that represent the 18 children that lost their lives at the hands of their caregivers in the state in 2019.

The site also has several military vehicles for visitors to explore.

“To properly honor these 660 American Flags, we ensure they are never alone, property lit at night and constantly ensure they fly freely, poles are straight and never touch the ground. This is where our Scouts come into play,” the club’s Americanism Program of Service Committee Chair Marlo Mikeal told Fox News on Friday in an email.

“They camp out overnight on the field and watch over our flags ensuring our flags are safe and properly displayed. Troop 171 endured a thunderstorm last night to ensure our flags were safe! We couldn’t do this event without their help and truly appreciate all the Troops who volunteer their time,” she added. “Tonight we will have the female troop #5171 from Williamson’s Chapel.”

Mooreville’s Field of Flags from a distance (Credit: Katie Muir Stankiewicz/Exchange Club of Mooresville and Lake Norman)

“It was a way to honor those who have served and sacrificed for our freedoms. And so, when we started it had, I think, barely 200 flags. It was done over Memorial Day,” Exchange Club Secretary Katie Stankiewicz said in an interview with Fox News. “Originally, this has been a field of honor that was held on Memorial Day and it’s grown exponentially and the last year was actually the first year that we held it on the Fourth of July.”

Stankiewicz, who comes from a military family and runs the nonprofit Willow Equine, said the relationship with the local Boy Scouts troops had been established over many years

“We don’t want the field to be left alone or unguarded. And so, we have – each night there is a different boy scout troop. And, actually, we have an all-girls Boy Scout troop that will also be on a watch,” she said. “But, we connected with their leaders and they know about our project and they come and they do shifts.”

According to Stankiewicz, three scouts stay awake to walk the field, making sure the flags are upright and “nobody’s messing with them.”

“The field remains lit all night long and that’s provided by the town of Mooresville. And so, the boys just take pride in the field and they really have started to understand the magnitude of what each flag represents. Each flag is a person, it’s a story, it’s memories … some cut short and some that are still here with us,” she said. 

Each flag can be purchased in honor or memory of a U.S. veteran, service member or first responder for $35.

On Saturday at 5 p.m. ET, there will be a virtual ceremony, a 6:15 p.m. concert and 9:15 p.m. fireworks show.

One of the military vehicles exhibited for the Field of Flags event (Credit: Katie Muir Stankiewicz/Exchange Club of Mooresville and Lake Norman)

One of the military vehicles exhibited for the Field of Flags event (Credit: Katie Muir Stankiewicz/Exchange Club of Mooresville and Lake Norman)

The Field of Flags will remain open for 24 hours a day until July 5 and purchased flags can be picked up on that day, July 7 or July 10.

Flags that are left and are still clean-looking will be reused and others will be properly retired.

Stankiewicz said that she hopes visitors can come out to “see what our freedom and our safety truly is. ” 

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“We come from a vast history of upheavals and conflict and connection and, really, unity,” she said. “We all come together as humans to give and give back and do well within the world. And so, I hope people can come and pay their respects. Say thank you. Say a prayer. Show gratitude to the men and women [who] keep us safe.”

“I love seeing the kids being able to walk the field and walk [among] the flags and play in the vehicles because, perhaps, this going to ignite a passion for service. Service to our community, perhaps service to our nation … It’s really about that we are not one in the world; we are all in this together,” said Stankiewicz.


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