For four years, American flags have been multiplying along the hillside at Prospect Hill Cemetery. The army of red, white and blue symbolizes individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan. This week, volunteers and one York County family who lost a son to these conflicts dismantled the memorial for the winter. As we retire the flag display, we would like to thank those who supported the project in so many ways.

In 2008, we observed three flag updating ceremonies. Nine Fallen Heroes Banners were also unveiled thanks to the generous support of local businesses and individuals (The Conewago Inn, Martin Foot and Ankle, Shipley Energy, First Capital Engineering, York Revolution, Russ and Lilli Horn, Barton Assoc., Maple Donuts and Glatfelter Insurance). From the memorial's setup in the spring, to the several updates, dedicated volunteers have kept this important community monument alive.

The list of people to thank is endless. Gold Star Family Members, who have lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan, helped set up the Flag Memorial in April along with the Civil Air Patrol Cadets from Thomasville. Pennsylvania Rep. Ron Miller and Rep. Eugene DePasquale read the names of all Pennsylvania casualties on Memorial Day.

Many other volunteers have returned time and again to be part of this remembrance ritual. Among them are Gold Star Family Members Mike and Cher Kondor, Dana Shearon and Donna Cutchall. They have regularly joined WSBA's Gary Sutton in reading the soldiers' names. York County Veterans Affairs director Phil Palandro has assisted Sgt. Philip Heffner in the somber placement of hundreds of flags. The York County Honor Guard has repeatedly offered its fallen comrade salute, while vocalist Tonia Grubb and bagpipers Rodney Yeaple and Doug Campbell continue to musically enhance the service. Last but not least, Vietnam veteran Bill Duerr Jr. has offered a recurring and evocative dove release, which brings a tear to any eye. The list is never-ending, just like our gratitude and appreciation.

Maybe one day there will be no more flags. In the meantime, we proudly stand next to our friends and neighbors and continue to honor those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our freedoms.