Paul Swenson

West Michigan Healing Fields began with a Rotarian

September 1, 2011 // 0 Comments

What is perhaps not as well known is that the Healing Field program had its beginnings with a Rotary International member. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 had a horrifying impact on us as a nation and as individuals. Rotarian Paul Swenson saw the “sheer enormity” of the human loss evidenced by the rubble, carnage and confusion at ground zero. The horror and despair of that scene brought no comfort. Swenson wanted to acknowledge the enormity of the sacrifice with a positive image that would also offer hope and comfort: a display that would offer healing. As the president of Colonial Flag Company, Swenson recognized the simple yet emotional power of the United States flag. He had seen the comfort in the eyes of a Gold Star Mother upon the receipt of a flag presented “on behalf of a grateful nation.” The folded flag, which had so recently draped the casket, reminded family that the fallen warrior was part of a cause greater than self, that we all are indeed part of that same cause, something greater than self. Swenson knew from so many similar experiences the healing power that can be found in the simple display of the flag. Swenson envisioned a display of 3,000 flags, a “healing field,” to honor those who died on the altar of freedom on 9/11. Not a pile of rubble bleak against a gray smoke-streaked sky, but ordered lines of flags posted on a grassy field, fluttering in the breeze against a blue sky. The enormity of the event symbolized with a positive and beautiful image. This was certainly a big idea. Many people have big ideas that never come into fulfillment. However, that would not be the case with Swenson and his vision of a Healing Field. He set out to make his vision a reality. The vision took planning, coordination and determination. In the effort, Swenson discovered a host of problems that required solution. He encountered doubters and naysayers who did not share the vision that he saw so clearly. Swenson found an appropriate grassy field adjacent to the city hall in Sandy, Utah. The quadrangle seemed to have been planned for the very purpose, and city officials were excited in their support. On the […]