Fields of purple flags honor opioid victims [VIDEO]

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MANASQUAN — The 1,970 purple flags waving in the breeze in Manasquan and Wall last week represented lives lost to opioid overdoses in New Jersey this year.

The display, which began on Aug. 29, coincided with International Overdose Awareness Day, which was Aug. 31.

“These are not just flags, but each flag represents a life, a life that had purpose and value,” said Nicole Federici, co-founder of Recovery Advocates for the Shore [RAFTS]. “They are someone’s brother, sister, mother, father, friend, husband, wife.”

RAFTS Recovery was responsible for creating the displays at St. Denis’ Our Lady Star of the Sea in Manasquan and at the municipal complex in Wall Township.

“The display went very well,” Ms. Federici said. “We are encouraged by the impact the flags have made. We have had a very positive response by community members and realized it has opened up dialogue with families and friends. This goes a long way in reducing the stigma often associated with the disease.”

“Families who have lost a loved one who came out had a safe, judgement free place to share. Hopefully it has provided an opportunity for education and healing,” she said.

Jeff Dykes, of Wayne, could attest to this. Mr. Dykes was observing the display on Thursday, Aug. 30, and said he found the display to be “very moving.”

For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.