June 3, 2016: ‘Avenue of Flags’ a reminder of what makes us great, by Susan Sutton

June 3, 2016 by

Sue Sutton

Sue Sutton

I hope everyone was able to drive or walk past Concordia’s Pleasant Hill Cemetery on Memorial Day this past Monday and enjoy the annual (weather permitting) Avenue of Flags display.

For the past several years, I had thought of helping when the call went out from the American Legion Post but didn’t until this year. It goes without saying that it was difficult to ignore the numerous reminders provided by the local media asking for people’s help putting up and taking down flag poles and 200 flags. These were roughly one-third of the total individual flags in the Legion collection, all donated by the family of a veteran.

My best guess is that around 50 people came to help. Based on what a friend told me, similar events usually relied on the same 10 people. But it was a beautiful day, which didn’t hurt.

Right away, the brigades formed. Some were lifting the flagpoles off a specially designed trailer – 200 in all – and then sliding each into pre-installed holes along the main drive of the cemetery. Next, the flags were hung. Some volunteers worked alone and others in teams, and all were ever vigilant that the flags never touched the ground.

I’d guess the display stretched a quarter of a mile north and south on both sides of the drive. Appropriately, about the time the last flag was hung, the first breeze of the day began to flutter the red, white and blue visual symbols of our larger American commitment to peace and freedom. Dean Frazer spoke of this in his public remarks at the Veterans’ Memorial later in the morning.

I do hope that everyone got the chance to see the Avenue of Flags display against the backdrop of a perfect day. It was a joyous day among friends and strangers; a genuine coming together for a common cause that each participant personalized in his or her own heart and mind.

At 5 p.m., the poles and flags came down. Back on the special trailer went the poles, the flags stowed and taken to the Legion Post Home where each was carefully folded into the requisite triangle with the blue star field on the outside and the individual veteran’s name written near the flag’s top grommet. To be sure, the Legion’s flag inventory is carefully accounted for as each is individually numbered and listed in a master registry. The list is located on a large plaque at the Cloud County Museum, Annex location.

The snapshot of the day for me was one of three generations of the Everett Miller family departing Pleasant Hill on their way to the flag folding, Ev and wife Marlene (meant to be pronounced Marlene like German actress Dietrich), daughter Tauyna and her daughter holding hands as they swung along. Our town is an accumulation of everyday citizens capable of great things when we hold hands and share.

 

— Susan Sutton is a retired Cloud County Community College dean.

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