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Virginia farm honors COVID-19 victims with colorful flag display

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Posted at 1:32 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-08 13:32:06-05

WAKEFIELD, Va. - One by one, Michael and Amy Drewry place flags into the ground of their farm.

Up close, each one seems small, but all together it's a large display of grief and loss. Each flag represents someone in Virginia who's died of COVID-19.

"When you think about the numbers, you don't realize the scope," Amy said. "Each flag represents a person - a person who was a mother, a brother, a sister."

The two have been building this memorial since last December, when they felt it was time to raise awareness about the toll the pandemic has taken.

"I just hope that people will be reflective and understand the magnitude of this," said Michael, who's a member of the Surry County Board of Supervisors. He's also a lawyer, and he and his wife Amy run a blueberry farm.

Currently, there are nearly 7,000 flags planted, but they haven't been able to keep up as the death toll in Virginia has surpassed 9,300.

The flags are different colors to make a point. "This pandemic is affecting more of our brothers and sisters of color, so we wanted to show diversity with the flags," Amy said.

When people pass by on Route 31, they see the display. Some use it as a time for quiet and reflection.

"When people drive by, they honk, they wave, they'll get out and they'll take a photograph and they will be reflective," Amy said.

They hope the display reminds everyone to take the pandemic seriously. They're not sure how much longer it will be up, but maybe not too much longer.

"I would hope that we get enough people vaccinated in our local area that we reach a little immunity and maybe then we can celebrate by pulling them up," Michael said.

For now as people drive by, they see the sign: "One flag - One person - a family mourning - our community in remembrance."

They also want to help raise money for a friend who is battling COVID-19. For more information on Dorothy Gay and how you can help, click here.

This story originally reported by Brendan Ponton on WTKR.com.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering