|Field of Honor
Newport Beach has it all: spectacular beaches, sunny California weather, surf spirit, diversity of restaurants, the harbor, and then there is The Exchange Club of Newport Harbor, the reason behind many of the city’s accomplishments. The club was founded in 1911.
The Exchangites, or club members, pride themselves in serving their community to better the lives of men, women and children across the nation, while preserving and spreading patriotism in the American culture. The club currently has about 75-80 members and hopes to get the number of members up to 100. They meet each Thursday, except for the first Thursday of each month, at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Corona Del Mar.
Since the beginning of its century-old story, the club has seen the development of the city: the replacement of summer cottages with permanent homes by the harbor; the building of the entrance to the harbor; the first Newport Beach high school. Not only has the club seen it, the club has been a part of it.
Community service being a large part of The Exchange Club's mission, the club is a founding member and supporter of the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center. The club is also involved with recognizing community heroes by setting up annual awards for police, firefighters, teachers, and students. Environmental awareness has also become an important point for the club; members participate in local environment-themed events as well as invite expert guest speakers in environmental topics to club meetings. The list of service goes on, but at the top of the list is the club's sense of patriotism.
When World War II was over, many of the veterans returning to Southern California made Newport Harbor their home, and for many years they owned a great number of businesses in Newport, contributing to the growth of the city. In their honor, and in honor of the men and women who have died serving in the nation's military, The Exchange Club together with the city are hosting the third annual Field of Honor.
Field of Honor takes place during the Armed Forces Day weekend, May 18-20, when women and men of the military forces are recognized. Flags are displayed along Castaways Park in Newport Beach to honor those who have served the country in the United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. The 3-by-5-foot flags on 8-foot poles are available for $45 per honoree for dedication to a member of the military. Following the weekend display of the flags, the dedicated flags can be taken home to fly all year. Net proceeds will be donated to families of service men and women, and other patriotic projects and youth charities in the community.
The three-day event will include performances by local school bands, a dedication ceremony at noon on May 19, guest speakers, an Air Force flyover, music, and a screening of the award-winning All for Liberty.
“I think there’s no doubt that the Field of Honor has captured the enthusiasm of everyone who has set foot among these 1,776 flags, whether they dedicated a flag or not,” says Bob Wood, current club president.