Nineteen United States flags were added to the Avenue of Flags at Clarinda Cemetery May 31 as part of the Memorial Day service presented by American Legion Sergy Post 98.
In November 2019, the post made the decision to replace the 5-foot by 9-foot cloth flags that comprised the Avenue of Flags with nylon flags measuring 3-feet by 5-feet. Over the past year, the post has been working to return the cloth flags to the families of the veterans they memorialized.
Page County Veterans Affairs provides the cloth flags for use in military funerals. Following the funerals, the families of the veterans had the option to donate the flag to be displayed as part of the Avenue of Flags.
However, due to their size, the flags easily became torn and tattered from the wind and were faded by the sunshine. The cloth flags were also so heavy when wet, such as after a rain, they would actually bend the flag poles they were hung from. It was for those reasons the post made the decision to replace the larger cloth flags.
When new flags are added to the Avenue of Flags, they are dedicated during the next Memorial Day service at the Clarinda Cemetery. The flags are flown around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that first year and then join the collection of flags to be placed throughout the cemetery.
In 2020, seven flags were to be dedicated during the Memorial Day service and then join the Avenue of Flags. Since those cloth flags had been replaced with new nylon flags, the cloth flags were to be returned to the families as part of the service. However, the 2020 Memorial Day service was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, the seven flags from 2020, as well as 12 flags for 2021, were dedicated during the service Monday. In addition, the seventh cloth flags from 2020 were returned to the families of those veterans.
The seven flags from 2020 returned to family members honored William H. Brockman, William E. Buss, Elbert L. Cline, Clemmeth M. Crussell, Thomas L. Hagewood, Jr., Myron J. Varley and Norman Wilbur. The flags were presented to a member of each family by the members of the American Legion Honor Guard.
Then, the 12 new flags for 2021 were dedicated. Those flags honor the memory of Bobby D. Burham, Larry V. Eighmy, Raymond L. Eighmy, Wendall D. Eighmy, Gerald G. Fesenmeyer, James L. Harper, Randall G. Herzberg, Roy K. Hughes, Donald T. Huttig, Billy C. McComb, Fred L. Neely and Floyd L. Palmer.
Prior to the dedication of the 19 flags that joined the Avenue of Flags, featured speaker Joe Christianson addressed the large crowd on hand for the service. A member of American Legion Sergy Post 98, Christianson served in the United States Army in Korea. He also served in the Iowa National Guard for several years.
Christianson presented a brief history of Memorial Day. First known as Decoration Day, the event was established to honor all the soldiers who died during the Civil War that ended in 1865.
“On the first Decoration Day, there were 5,000 people who put flowers on the 20,000 graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery,” Christianson said.