POCATELLO - Century High School sophomores Josh Wardlow and Tyler Zelmer planted the final white cross in the Field of Heroes memorial Thursday in preparation for its opening ceremony this morning.

It bares a photo and information about Pocatello Sgt. Blake Stephens who was killed by an improvised explosive device early this month. The Stephens cross is second to last in a row of 28 others representing all Gem State casualties in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Behind them, a sea of 3,843 smaller crosses planted in 40 rows fills Century High School's athletic field. Each of the smaller crosses bares the name of an American soldier killed in the conflicts.

"When I come out here and it's all done, I feel proud of all these people who died for our country," Wardlow said. "But it makes me sad."

Wardlow and Zelmer, both 16, along with a handful of other volunteers, dedicated the past week to completing the memorial by today. The boys, who are best friends, worked side by side with the veterans who organized the only memorial of its kind in America to honor those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Vietnam Veteran John Rogers spearheaded the Field of Heroes four years ago. Since then, he has watched it steadily grow as the two wars have continued to claim lives.

Rogers said the memorial is not anti-war. Rather, it is meant as a visual reminder of the price some have paid.

"It makes me realize the expense of what we are doing," Rogers said.

The opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Later this afternoon, at 4 p.m., there will be a youth ceremony, which will include a memorial tree to be planted in honor of Stephens. The Field of Heroes will remain standing through Memorial Day.

Breakout: Field of Heroes schedule:

Friday, May 25, 2007

10:00 a.m. ~ Opening Ceremony

4:00 p.m. ~ Youth Ceremony

Boy Scout Troop 315, Historical Flag Ceremony

Dedication of Sgt. Blake Stephens Memorial

9:00 p.m. ~ Flag Lowering Ceremony

Saturday, May 26, 2007

9:00 p.m. ~ Flag Lowering Ceremony

Sunday, May 27, 2007

9:00 p.m. ~ Flag Lowering Ceremony

Monday, May 28, 2007

7:00 p.m. ~ Sunset Ceremony

8:30 p.m. ~ Sandy Riggers Patriotic Concert

9:00 p.m. ~ Flag Lowering Ceremony

Journal Writer