Published May 30, 2022

Durango Healing Fields salutes military personnel for Memorial Day

By Crystal Ashike

Hundereds of flags blow in the wind for the Duranog Healing Fields on Memorial Day at Santa Rita Park in Durango, Colo. captured on Sunday, May 30, 2022. KSUT Tribal Radio | Crystal Ashike

Durango, Colo. — The United States military personnel who are actively serving, honorably served, or lost their lives in the military were honored at Durango Healing Fields for the first time.

Over a hundred flags and dog tags blew in the wind at Santa Rita Park during the closing ceremony organized by Phelia Smith, a Blue Star Moms member.

Blue Star Moms are members of mothers whose children are active in the military or honorably discharged. Gold Star Moms are mothers who lost their children while serving. And the member of moms found support through a non-profit organization called Blue Star Moms, which raises money for care packages and outreach.

Among the group of Blue Star Moms standing on the field, three were Gold Star Moms.

"These are the people I can come to and tell me stories, whether they're hard or they're good, we're pretty tight," said Smith to a crowd of people about the moms standing with her earlier today.

The four-day display of flags watched 24 hours a day by volunteers brought people to the park and was not hard to miss when traveling south on HWY 550 into town. At nighttime, luminaria lights glowed near the flagpoles under the flags.

"I spent a lot of time out here at night, in the dark hours between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. It was just me, the wind and the flags and the dog tags, that was very peaceful, maybe that's why they call it the healing field," said David Latham, a commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars, who presented an honor and remembered flag to a Gold Star Mom.

David Latham commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars 4031 presents an honor and remembered flag to a Gold Star Mom during the closing ceremony, captured on Sunday, May 30, 2022. KSUT Tribal Radio | Crystal Ashike

La Plata County Commissioner Matt Salka was one of the people Smith reached out to arrange the event and was happy to help.

"This event - highlights the reason why we are free in America, to those who fought for our country," says Salka and was grateful for the 25 years his father served in the military.