‘There’s just something about it’
The expansive Field of Flags display each Memorial Day weekend moves many to tears. Returning for its ninth year, the display to honor those who serve is on Highway 377, next to Taco Casa.
“There’s just something about it, when you walk through the flags and hear the wind whipping. It’s emotional,” said volunteer Brad Coker. “It really makes you think about those who served.”
Coker has been working with the Field of Flags since its inception in 2012 and has no plans to stop.
“I’ll be doing this the rest of my life,” he said.
The group of volunteers was pretty small in the beginning, Coker said.
“We all worked on every task. We had never been involved with a project like this. There was a lot of trial and error,” he added.
Coker recalls a setback at the first Field of Flags when a rainstorm hit. The flags were set up, ready for viewing, then it rained. Each flag was marked with a tag denoting the person who was honored.
“The tags weren’t waterproof, so we had to print new ones and put them on,” Coker said. “Each year we learn something new, or find a better way to do something.” The tags are now weatherproof.
Coker first got involved with Field of Flags through the U.S. Veterans Museum.
“I answered a request for volunteers to help disassemble an airplane in Cresson and bring it to Granbury,” he explained. “That’s how I met Tom Green at the Veterans Museum.”
The museum was the first sponsor for Field of Flags.
As a custom homebuilder, Coker has knowledge of construction and building materials and soon became the go-to guy for placing flags in the ground.
“When we first started, it would take us days to get all the rebar in the ground,” Coker said.
Over the years, volunteers have found ways to make the job easier and quicker.
“We had someone who developed a special tool to put the rebar in the ground. We get it done in about two hours now,” he said.
Rebar is a steel bar commonly used to reinforce concrete during construction. Rebar sticks are pounded into the ground at the Field of Flags to hold plastic poles with the flags attached.
A string is used to mark where rebar goes into the ground. The flags are perfectly aligned using this method.
“There’s a lot of things like mowing and flag assembly that happen behind the scenes,” Coker said. “There was a time when I had my three kids out here helping us mow.”
A contractor now handles the mowing.
Coker said he’s not a veteran and doesn’t have a particular connection to the military – he just enjoys being part of the community effort to honor those who serve.
Coker and his wife Lesha have three children. Twin boys Trace and Trevin are 12, and daughter Tay is 9.
Through the years, the display has been kept alive by various nonprofit groups including the U.S. Veterans Museum, the Greater Granbury Military Officers Association of American (MOAA) and now the Rally Project. Volunteers include individuals and civic groups.
For more information, contact Doug Pruit with the Rally Project, a nonprofit to help military and first responders with crisis counseling and affordable housing. Send a text message to 817-770-0425.
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