Since the middle of last week, those who drive by the Bonnie Brae Educational Center on Valley Road have been able to see a field filled with 2,977 American flags.
The school's Field of Flags was officially dedicated last Friday. It was both an occasion of remembrance and a more current thank you for local firefighters, first aid squad members and police.
The Bonnie Brae School on Valley Road, which last Tuesday and Wednesday erected almost 3,000 flags to recall each of the victims of 9/11, including 18 in Basking Ridge by one count, later held an official dedication to remember those who lost their lives — and a luncheon to honor emergency workers who continue to assist the school on a regular basis. The event was planned by school principal Donna Crane.
The school officials read the names of the Basking Ridge residents who perished as a result of the terrorist attacks — David Otey Campbell, Sgephen P. Dimino, John W. Farrell, Louis V. Fersini, Jr., Michael Bradley Finnigan, Christopher Hugh Forsythe, Steven Gregory Genovese, Robert John Halligan, Kevin James Hannaford, Matthew T. McDermott, Stacey S. McGowan, Ludwig J. Picarro, Stephen E. Poulos, John Clinton Hartz, Timothy P. Soulas, Craig William Staub, William R. Tieste and Frank T. Wisniewski — and rang a bell in their honor.
The school then hosted a luncheon to honor those who "do whatever it takes to protect, serve and save lives each day." Those invited included Bernards Township police, the Basking Ridge and Liberty Corner fire companies, the Liberty Corner First Aid Squad, the Lyons fire department and veterans from the nearby federal Veterans Administration facility in Lyons.
William Powers, the school's Chief Executive Officer, rescue squad members and other emergency responders are no strangers at Bonnie Brae School. The educational center and residential treatment center is home to 97 active boys, Powers said.
Some of those students put their energy to good use to cook or bake up about half of Friday's luncheon spread, which included a pig roast and a tomato and fresh mozzarella salad. Desserts made by students presented the crowd with a fresh fruit tart and key lime pie.
"We thought, let's recognize them," Powers said of the list of invitees.
Powers said the school's students went out in rainy and windy conditions at the beginning of the week to place the flags on display in a muddy ground. Some fell or were blown down, and had to be put in place again, he said.