POCATELLO — The COVID-19 pandemic won’t halt the annual Idaho Field of Heroes Memorial, as evidenced by around 20 volunteers spending hours Thursday afternoon preparing the Memorial Day tradition at Century High School’s soccer field.
The memorial, viewable Friday through Monday, honors military members who died fighting in the War on Terror since 9/11 and other Americans who’ve served going back to World War I.
The memorial will be pared down because it would have gone against social-distancing guidelines to have hundreds of volunteers setting it up at full scale, according to memorial committee member Hiedi Young who revealed there is still a lot to see.
On Thursday, she said volunteers were placing 97 crosses with names of Idaho service members who died since 9/11 in Afghanistan or Iraq during the war on terror, 50 crosses for every state as well as placards and podiums showing respect to service members going all the way back to World War I.
The Idaho Field of Heroes Memorial will stream its dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday and the closing ceremony at 5 p.m. Monday on its Facebook page. People are free to attend each ceremony in person as well.
The memorial can be viewed from inside your vehicle as people are allowed to drive through the bus lane next to the field, unlike previous years.
For visitors who leave their cars and step onto the field, wearing face masks and being socially distant is recommended by memorial organizers.
Despite the outbreak, Young said there were never plans to cancel the event nor has that been considered in previous years — contrary to rumors she said she always hears.
“We have never considered not holding this Field of Heroes,” Young said. “That rumor circulates every single year and I don’t know where it comes from. As long as we have veterans and service members and family members that need this field and community members that will help put this field together, it will continue.”
This will be the 17th time the Idaho Field of Heroes Memorial has been put on.
The scale of it has been many times larger in previous years, as there is normally a cross for every American service member who has died in Afghanistan or Iraq since 9/11. This year, that number would have been more than 7,000.
“It was hard for us to let go of the 7,000 crosses because that’s what this field is about: is the 7,000 men and women who died,” Young said. “But we knew what we had to do to be responsible was to not put them up and we have enough other things to put up — beside those 7,000 crosses — that we could still have a modified field to still play honor.”