Field of Honor in Georgetown adapted to pandemic challenges for its fourth annual event to honor veterans, first responders and other community heroes.

This year's event included 1,460 full-size American flags and special sections for K9 service dogs, historical U.S. and Texas flags, service branch flags, the Space Force flag and a flag for COVID-19 heroes.

Field of Honor, hosted by the Rotary Club of Georgetown, brought about 4,500 visitors throughout the week this year. Jeanne Cox, the Rotary Club’s Field of Honor chair, said this was about the same number of daily visitors as previous years with the exception of the visitors from annual opening ceremonies and other large gatherings at the field. The field was open 24 hours a day from Nov. 7-15, and visitors were able to socially distance at the outdoor venue.

The event benefits FOCK Ride On Center for Kids, Samaritan Counseling Center and Veteran Outdoors. Proceed totals are still being calculated.

Cox said she loves listening to stories from veterans and their family members at Field of Honor. The event is a way to bring unity and peace to the community, she said.

“There are so many amazing stories told and shared at that field. And it keeps reminding us why we do this,” Cox said. “It’s our gift to the community and our way to express gratitude and patriotism for this county at a time when it is so important because we’ve got so much division and anger out there.”

After the Red Poppy Festival was canceled, there was a risk that the annual event would not go on, Cox said. But the decision to include COVID-19 heroes in the event was one of the committee members' first changes in their pandemic response.

“They are on the front lines of this pandemic, and this is huge. They deserve to be recognized and honored with a flag as well,” Cox said.

The event also modified its Veterans Day event to be smaller and socially distanced on the football-sized field. Speeches, two flyovers and the 11 bell rings were kept in the adapted ceremony.

Georgetown ISD field trips are also a typical part of the Field of Honor, Cox said, but field trips were moved to a virtual format this year with a week of virtual events. Cox said they were a “huge success,” and deployed military members were able to speak to students on panels.

As a Navy mother, Cox said visiting her first Field of Honor years ago in California was touching. She said she stood in the middle of flags and cried and prayed for her daughter who was deployed. After joining the Rotary Club of Georgetown, she suggested the Field of Honor as the club’s signature event because of the large veteran population in Georgetown and Williamson County.

The Georgetown event began in 2017.