Celebrating Our Great Nation
“Since the late 1950′s, on the Thursday before Memorial Day, 1,200 soldiers of the U.S. Third Infantry place small American flags at all 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol twenty-four hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.
In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual ‘Good Turn.’ That memorial tradition continues to this day at over 5,000 veteran headstone markers at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery, the ‘Arlington of the West,’ at Evergreen Washelli in north Seattle.
Since 1929, the entrance to the cemetery on Memorial Day and Veterans Day has been lined with America flags, an ‘Avenue of Colors.’ Those flags have been donated by the families, friends and loved ones of departed veterans who wanted the symbol of their cherished memory to wave proudly as everyone passed by on their way to participate in our traditional American observances.
The last time I donated a flag to the Veterans Cemetery was more than twenty years ago. That American flag was presented to me twenty years before that in memory of a fallen brother. I carefully marked his name in the margin with the date he died, and every year I’ve wondered which one was his as I passed. Each time I walk through that ‘Avenue of Colors’ I hold my salute and smile thinking my brother’s flag is waving back.
This year the Veterans Memorial Cemetery needs to replace many of the flags, including my brother’s. So, I bought a new flag, one that will last another forty years. Next week I will take it to Evergreen Washelli’s office so it can be used this Memorial Day. I will write his name again in small letters on the margin and the date he died. I will also donate another American flag in honor of Jim Hinde, a local Vietnam veteran, in honor of all Vietnam veterans who served and now are part of our collective heritage.
I urge all my veteran brothers and sisters, families and friends, to remember those whose memory you keep folded and in a glass case to donate American flags to Evergreen Washelli for the Veterans Memorial Cemetery. Help make this Memorial Day more meaningful with a display of new flags. Help us keep our celebration shining in red, white, and blue memories of our love, our loss, and our freedom.
I look forward to seeing you on Memorial Day when we honor America’s fallen and salute the flags on our ‘Avenue of Colors.’ They represent hundreds of lives that still wave in the wind on special days.”
Veterans Memorial Cemetery Board