I think I have told this story before, but maybe it only was delivered at the coffee shop. I tried to dig around in the Memorial Day opinion columns of the past 13 years, but could not find this tale in those editions.
A number of years ago, on one of my many trips to Colorado to visit my mother at my sister’s home in Fort Morgan, I stopped for gas in Limon, Colo., before embarking on the last leg of my journey. It was a semi-springy day and I had on a T-shirt that featured a screen print of the Peabody American Legion Avenue of Flags at Prairie Lawn Cemetery on Memorial Day.
I pumped my gas, went into the station, bought a fountain drink and some snack food, and went to the counter to pay my bill. The man at the counter looked at the shirt and said to me, “Do you live in that town?” I told him I did, and he said that he knew of the flag display along U.S. 50. I think he told me he wasn’t sure of the name of our community, but that he had been a trucker for a number of years and passed the lighted flag display at night one time and had never forgotten it.
“In fact, when I was on the road that night, that was all I heard for miles from the other truckers,” he said. “Everyone was on the radio telling other drivers to watch for it, that it was a sight to behold. And it really was!”
So there I was, eight hours from Peabody, hearing about the efforts of our American Legion and the impact the Avenue of Flags had on not just the man I was talking to, but dozens more who saw the display and wanted to share it with their fellow travelers. I was pretty pleased.
He told me he was a Vietnam veteran and he appreciated communities that honored their men and women in the service. We talked a bit and I went on. I stopped there numerous times after that on my trips to Colorado, but I never saw him working there again.
What I want you to take away from this column is that what our American Legion members and Sons of the Legion members do is about as impressive as any Memorial Day display anywhere honoring soldiers and veterans. It is time to put the Avenue of Flags back on display at Prairie Lawn Cemetery. The American Legion members could use your help erecting the flagpoles and hanging the flags. And when it is over, they could use your help taking them down.
As their members age and as many leave the ranks, it has become more and more troublesome to find enough healthy Legion members to make the Avenue of Flags the stirring display that is talked about by people from all over the country. There are 226 poles and flags to erect. A group of high school athletes traditionally helps with the effort. However, more help is always appreciated.
You will probably get this newspaper on Wednesday or Thursday. Please drive out to the cemetery in the evening and see if you can help. If they are done, ask a Legion member if you can help take down the display the week after the holiday. If you are not able to physically assist them, write a check to the Avenue of Flags account. The funds will help continue this worthwhile project, which honors our many veterans buried at Prairie Lawn. They gave for us and now it is time for us to give back.
— SUSAN MARSHALL