SAL member honors Nebraska’s fallen

Twice a year the yard of 20-year-old Thomas Landkamer becomes a tribute to the brave men and women of Nebraska who served their country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Landkamer, a member of the Sons of The American Legion Squadron 16 in Norfolk, Neb., places 92 U.S. flags and crosses in his yard for Memorial Day and Veterans Day that bear the names of each Nebraska servicemember killed since 9-11. "I have seen this done elsewhere, and I thought it would be a great way to honor Nebraska’s fallen heroes," said Landkamer, the son of Nebraska’s American Legion National Executive Committeeman Jerry Landkamer. "It helps our community make sure the fallen are never forgotten."

Landkamer has been honoring America’s heroes with the Field of Flags display since 2011, and he said residents of the neighborhood appreciate his patriotism. The tribute is especially moving for one neighbor whose son’s name is among the 92. Landkamer said when the father visited the Field of Flags memorial and saw his son’s cross and flag, "he left in tears. He was impressed with the memorial.

"The memorial makes me proud to be an American, and it reminds me of the sacrifice of the veterans. It’s what this country is all about."

Jerry said his son has been "dedicated to his colors" for many years. While in school at Norfolk Catholic High School, he was voted most patriotic student of the year several times, he raised and lowered the flag every day, he designed a Gold Star and a killed in action flag, and he helped get a POW/MIA flag and the Nebraska state flag flown at his school. Landkamer also raised and lowered the flag when school was out for the summer on special holidays, such as Memorial Day, Flag Day and Fourth of July. He also replaces worn flags at gravestones with his own money.

"He’s a very patriotic young man, he is a role model son, and his mother (Starla) and I are very proud of him," Jerry said.

Starla echoed Jerry’s sentiments. "As parents, we feel truly blessed to have a son who knows and understands what the red, white and blue is all about and isn’t afraid to take a stand for what he believes in," she said.