More than 100 flags representing area veterans fly on Memorial Day weekend at the city cemetery in Westmoreland, Kan., thanks to Post 186.
The decades-long tradition of flying one flag for each Westmoreland-area veteran originally used the casket flags, donated by families for the event. The City Fathers began the tradition, but Post 186 adopted it. However, Legionnaires noticed the wear and tear on the heirlooms and decided to purchase more durable nylon replacements.
"Those casket flags were a little larger than the ones we now have, and if they happened to get wet they got heavy or in the wind they would put pressure on the flagpole that would cause it to be bent or bow a lot,” said Jim Bradley, former post commander.
Last year, the Legion added 25 flagpoles to make room for more veterans in the near future, putting in about 40 man hours.
The annual ceremony with a color guard, speaker and firing squad will take place at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day in the cemetery, with the flags on the horizon, next to a Grand Army of the Republic monument, he said. The Auxiliary offers light refreshments afterward to the public.
Flying the flags gets at the heart of the Memorial Day celebration, he said.
"Our society gets so busy ... that they don’t take time out for these kind of memorials to recognize the people that made this country what it is," he said. "I think it’s something that goes a long way to remember why Memorial Day was established."
The donated casket flags remain on ceremonial display, he said.