BIDWELL — With an in-person Veterans Day assembly canceled because of COVID-19, River Valley High School is remembering veterans differently this year.
“I was trying to come up with something for Veterans Day. I was trying to think of like a virtual speaker like where we could actually give back to the veterans for Veterans Day,” Brea McClung, a history and government teacher at River Valley High School, said.
McClung came up with a different idea, though. She organized the Healing Field. In the field in front of the school, flags, wreaths, and photographs are being displayed to recognize the sacrifices of Ohio’s veterans.
McClung researched how many Ohio veterans died in different American wars, and found that 2,997 Ohioans died in the Vietnam War. This is the exact number of people who died in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Twelve soldiers from Gallia County died in Vietnam.
“I thought, ‘How cool it would be to adjust our field outside of our field with three thousand flags?’” McClung said. “I know that sounds like a big feat, but how cool it would be if we did that?”
The River Valley Art Club and teacher Angie Petrie helped make wreaths for each Gallia County soldier who died in Vietnam. It has pictures of each Gallia County soldier who perished in Vietnam as well. These photographs have been enlarged to poster-size by Jeremy Peck. Denise Shockley, Superintendent of the Educational Service Center, provided flags, which were put out by American history and government classes at River Valley High School.
“There’s going to be at the front of the healing field, a wreath, and there’ll be a picture,” McClung said. This will be repeated for all twelve Gallia County veterans who died in Vietnam. “And then we’ve had kids that are supposed to bring pictures…and we’re going to put those in the circle.”
A total of 2,997 flags were put up in the field in front of River Valley’s library on Friday. The twelve wreaths have also been placed at the front of the field. In a circle, pictures of River Valley veterans — former students, teachers, or others associated with the school — will be placed. On November 10, 11, and 12, the field will be lit at night from 6:30 to 10 p.m.
Students worked with McClung on Friday to put flags up. All students complied with COVID-19 guidelines, and were allowed to remove masks if they were more than six feet away from others.
Veterans Day is on Wednesday, November 11.
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Sharla Moody is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing from Gallipolis, Ohio. She is a graduate of River Valley High School and currently attends Yale University.