VISTA, Calif. – Take a little walk through the fields behind the Antique Gas and Steam Museum in Vista to find a special tribute to military families waiting on the other side.
“When I go out here and look at the flag, it makes me happy,” said Allison, a young girl visiting with her family for Monday’s Memorial Day celebration.
The flag, spread out over 11,000 square feet, stretches across a hillside on the site. It is one of the largest flags on display in the county, an idea TJ Crossman got from a buddy of his who did something similar in another state. The flag display will be up through December.
Monday’s tribute also brought patriotic music and moments of reflection on those who died for their country.
“I love playing holiday ceremonies as a veteran myself,” said Mark Lewis, who served in Navy Band San Diego. “There’s no place I’d rather be.”
Lewis was part of a six-piece brass ensemble that played for the crowd at the second annual Memorial Day celebration at the museum. The ceremony included a pass from a retired Air Force pilot to honor fallen soldiers.
“The plane was probably my favorite part,” said Jacob Hirt, visiting with his father, Lt. Spencer Hirt, who serves as a Navy doctor.
“We take time as a family to talk about what this day means to us as a family,” Lt. Hirt said. “They are able to grasp it, that people have made a lot of sacrifices for us.”
The elder Hirt said the pandemic likely created his most challenging year in the Navy so far.
“Trying to fight a different kind of war, save lives from that perspective,” he said. “It’s something that has been weighing heavily on my mind.”