HARRISBURG - Ahead of the Sept. 11 anniversary, Harrisburg High School's Taylor Field had an extra special patriotic and emotional feel Friday evening at halftime of the Bulldogs' home football contest against Boonville, Ind.
Woodmen Life, a not-for-profit insurance organization, helped sponsor an honor and remembrance ceremony featuring a 50-foot by 100-foot American flag.
"We are a not-for-profit organization, and we like to give back to our communities," said Woodmen financial representative Jim Shull of Harrisburg. "We always donate flags to schools, non-profits, all of the different organizations out there, and this actual flag was flown over Shanksville, Pennysylvania. We just like to honor and remember the victims of Sept. 11 while also honoring veterans, first responders, police, fire and emergency personnel for the jobs they do protecting us."
Teresa Dunaway, who has spent time with the organization in western Kentucky, had taken part in a similar event in Mayfield, Ky. She said the flag makes appearances at stadiums and other venues for Woodmen Life across the country.
"When this is on the field, if there is anybody who is not crying or their heart's not pounding, they're not an American. It touches you," said Dunaway.
More than 80 people carried the flag onto the field while others helped underneath, including police officers, firefighters, veterans, students and other community members.
Local Veteran Honor Guards of American Legion's Post 167, 364 and 3479 assisted in the posting of colors and flag salute.
State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) and Harrisburg mayor John McPeek both addressed the crowd.
The Harrisburg High School marching band played two patriotic selections along with Taps during a moment of silence.
Harrisburg High School athletic director Greg Langley said planning for the event began early in the summer when Shull approached Harrisburg CUSD 3 administration to see if the school would be interested in hosting the event.
"This is the first time we've ever done this in Southern Illinois," said Shull. "We're very fortunate to be able to do it here at Harrisburg to honor our veterans locally, to help unite this community and help bring us all together."