Field of Flags at Oneco American Legion post honors fallen war heroes

ONECO -- More than 200 American flags fluttered proudly in the green lawn of the Christopher Cobb Memorial American Legion Post 312 today.

About 10 children of post members created the Field of Flags this morning to honor the U.S. military servicemen and women of Florida who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each flag has a white ribbon with the name of the fallen hero, except for the 12 in the front row, which are decorated with a yellow ribbon to honor those from Manatee and Sarasota counties who died in service to our country.

"I've done this since the year Chris died," said Sheila Cobb, whose son, Marine Pfc. Christopher Cobb, died April 6, 2004, at the age of 19 after an ambush in Ramadi, Iraq.

Sheila Cobb said she got the idea to establish the memorial when she received a flag with Christopher's name attached.

"It came from a Field of Flags up north," she said.

Amid the Field of Flags is a silhouette of a bayoneted rifle stuck into the ground, with a helmet placed on the stock and a pair of combat boots next to the rifle, the traditional display to honor those who died in combat.

For the past seven years, Cobb has enlisted the help of children of American Legion members.

"I feel great helping," said Chris Mason, 11. "This is to honor the people who went to fight for freedom."

Chris said he thought about all the people who died as he was putting up the flags.

It also was an honor for 12-year-old Jarrett Givens, who has been participating for several years.

"My cousin and other veterans served in Iraq to help us have freedom," Jarrett said.

Post Commander Hank Yakich said he was happy the children participated.

"They're our future," Yakich said. "The kids are great."

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the tradition of Field of Flags has become very popular around the country.

The flag display at the Oneco American Legion post will be available for the public to view through Memorial Day.

The post will be celebrating Memorial Day throughout the day with some members attending services throughout the county and at a barbecue at the American Legion hall, 1610 67th Ave. E.