Alabama Legion Riders chapter providing both flags, recognition to area veterans 

Alabama Legion Riders chapter providing both flags, recognition to area veterans 

More than 18 months ago, the American Legion Riders chapter at Denton-Drake American Legion Post 88 in Mobile, Ala., began installing flagpoles and U.S. flags on the properties of aging veterans. Since then, close to 20 flags have been installed in what has morphed beyond a Riders’ project and into a Legion Family and community effort.

The program is the brainchild of Chapter 88 Director George Johnson, a member of Sons of The American Legion Squadron 88. Johnson was unavailable for an interview, but Chapter 88 Finance Officer Wendy Denton, a member of Auxiliary Unit 88, was quick to praise him.

“George is very dedicated to honoring veterans in different ways,” Denton said. “He came up with the idea of us purchasing a flagpole for a couple of our veterans. And it went over really, really well. And he decided to expand it.”

The program started off providing flags and flagpoles to aging post members, as well as recognizing their service. But once word got out about the program, requests came in with names of senior veterans in the community who also could be honored.

“So we continued to purchase them and get names for future raisings of the flagpoles,” Denton said. “And then people started donating some money toward flagpoles. We would have families or different people within the community that had someone that wanted a flagpole in their yard. It became something that people wanted to do for a veteran that they knew. But they wanted us to be there to honor them.”

Via text, Johnson said the program made an impact on Chapter 88’s Riders and grew to the post’s Legion Family. “Every Rider that has participated in our mission was touched in such a way that it has grown,” he said.

Denton said as Chapter 88 saw the reaction to their efforts, it knew it had to continue the program. “There are some veterans out there that we surprise that are up in years … that had never been recognized before,” she said. “It just warms their heart. So, it was something that we decided we needed to continue."

The most recent flag presentation was to 87-year-old veteran Dudley Bexley. Members of Post 88’s Legion Family were there to help install and then honor Bexley. “I tell you what, I’ve never felt so honored until today,” Bexley told FOX 10 News.

Being there to deliver the flags and then recognize the veteran is personal for Denton. “For me, it’s like honoring everyone that’s come before me. It really is,” she said. “It’s acknowledging someone that sacrificed a lot for me. Most of my family is military. My brother is 32 years retired Army. My great-grandfather was Navy. I have brothers and sisters that served in different branches of the military.

“It’s like honoring them every time I honor someone else. Seeing the face of them when we do that, when we ride up on the motorcycles and we have the flagpole raised. And knowing the pride that they have all over their faces, there’s no words.”

Denton hopes other posts and Riders chapters will start a similar program in their communities. “Our goal is to reach other posts, not just in Alabama, but all across the United States and have them start the same exact program within their community, so that we can reach everyone,” she said.