First Responders Appreciation Day will be observed in Urbana on May 24 at the Grimes Field Airport. The celebration will recognize the men and women who protect and care for area residents in times of emergency.
“Champaign County firefighters, police and emergency medical service providers are always there in our time of need and it is fitting to recognize their important contribution to the community ” said Jeff Frantz, committee chairman.
A “Field of Honor” will be the focal point of the day as hundreds of U.S. flags fly in tribute to the first responders. The flags will wave on 8-foot poles in perfect rows and columns on a field of green grass.
“What a glorious sight and fitting tribute to our firefighters, police and emergency medical service providers,” the event organizers state in their announcement. “They have earned our gratitude by their selfless service and sacrifice, and U.S. flags flown in their honor offer a fitting tribute.”
The “Field of Honor” was made possible by donations from Champaign County businesses and private individuals who purchased a display flag to show support and gratitude for local first responders. Each flag will have a yellow ribbon attached recognizing a loved one. This year, the proceeds from the event will be used to purchase “carbon hoodies” for the Urbana Fire Division. Each year a different department or division of first responders will receive the event’s proceeds. As it is a holiday weekend, the flags will fly until Tuesday morning, May 28.
In addition to the dedication ceremony, there will be a display of fire equipment, truck, and various apparatus available for viewing. Following the ceremony, a complimentary lunch will be served to all first responders and their families. Lunch is available to other guests at a small charge. Participants should bring lawn chairs and join others in paying tribute to the first responders of Champaign County.
Music will be provided by the Urbana High School Band at 10:15 a.m. The program starts at 10:30 a.m.
Schedule of events
– Welcome – Jeff Frantz, Event Chairman
– Call for Honor Guard
– National Anthem/ Pledge of Allegiance
– Invocation – Rev. Ray Branstiter
– Speaker – Urbana Mayor Bill Bean
– Music – “Salvation is Created” – performed by Urbana High School Band
– Speaker – Dean Ortlieb, Fire Chief, City of Urbana
– Speaker – Jamie Houseman, President of Mercy Health-Urbana Hospital
– Closing Comments – Jeff Frantz
– Final Tribute – 21 Gun Salute
– Bagpipe performance of “Amazing Grace”
Those sponsoring a display flag must pick up their own keepsake new standard-size U.S. flag kit by 3 p.m. May 24 at the airport office.