Almost 500 American flags planted in a green field outside the Seminole, Fla., city hall and post office are a red, white and blue reminder to honor veterans on Nov. 11 and all month.
Duke Energy is sponsoring 100 of those 479 flags on the Field of Honor organized by the Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole. The Fields of Honor across the country is a growing tradition for Kiwanis clubs during November.
Each flag carries a custom color streamer that highlights a veteran’s name, rank, years of service and military branch logo. While more than 2,100 veterans work at Duke Energy, the company’s sponsored flags specifically honor veterans in each branch of the military.
“It’s an awesome experience to be able to talk about my military service and to know there’s a flag out there honoring my service,” said Andrea Hancock, a senior security specialist for Duke Energy Florida. She was in the Army National Guard for 11 years.
“We hire, annually, about 300 veterans companywide,” said Loretta Murray, government and community relations program manager for Duke Energy Florida, who has organized Duke Energy’s sponsorship and participation in the Seminole Field of Honor since 2019. “Our core values align with their behaviors.”
Other Duke Energy Veterans Day activities include the Together We Stand for Our Veterans (TWS) employee resource group, the company’s community relations organization, alumni, Customer Delivery and Substation Maintenance teams placing flags at the headstones of more than 2,500 veterans at the Indiana Veterans Home in Lafayette. TWS chapters planned to participate in parades in Charlotte, N.C., and Inverness, Fla., and make presentations to school children in Citrus County, Fla., as well as partnering with Military Missions in Action (MMIA) on several initiatives in Raleigh, N.C.
“The military was definitely a humbling experience, which set me up for success when I started my career at Duke Energy,” said Hancock, who has gone from working in a detainment facility in Iraq to working as a corporate security investigator. “My service instilled some patience, confidence and definitely discipline. Knowing that I have the ability to continuously strengthen those qualities by being of service to this company, and our customers, motivates me to work hard.”
Tom Artau served in the Navy’s nuclear power program for six years. Today, he is a business development manager for Duke Energy who helps develop regulated solar projects.
“The military is about duty, learning discipline, respect, commitment,” he said. “The Navy revolves around operational readiness to carry out a mission. You’re always preparing to implement the appropriate amount of force to maintain freedom across the oceans.”
During his service, Artau helped monitor and maintain electricity aboard the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, which carried 6,200 personnel. “I was basically helping to deliver power reliably to a small city,” he said.
Artau said he never forgets his fellow service members. This is his second year volunteering with the Kiwanis to help assemble and put up flags in the Field of Honor.
“We want to show veterans that we recognize their service as colleagues and as loved ones,” said Murray, which is why Duke Energy committed to helping the Kiwanis grow their Field of Honor. Not only is the company providing volunteer support and sponsorship, but their engineering team is also installing a 30-foot pole with LED lighting for the third year.
“A U.S. flag should not fly in complete darkness,” said David Green, fundraising chair for the Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole. He explained that flag expansion was previously limited when light wasn’t reaching all of the field’s green space. “Because we obtained those lights, the Field of Honor has continued to grow every single year.”
The Kiwanis Breakfast Club of Seminole started their Field of Honor in 2015 with 24 flags. And every year all flags are sponsored by community members.
“I appreciate the fact that our company supports it,” Artau said. “I appreciate the fact that our country supports veterans the way they do. And I want to be part of it. I want to honor the people that have defended our freedom.”