Honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice doesn’t stop on National Poppy Day. ALA units, along with The American Legion Family, will take part in memorial services, parades, and other events to honor and remember the fallen.
Members of Brown-Wright Unit 158 in Arkansas work alongside Post 158 members to place flags on veterans’ graves.
“Unit 158 has a flag fund that is used to purchase larger flags for the cemeteries,” said Charlotte Purdy, Children & Youth, Public Relations, and Junior Activities chair for the unit and Public Relations chair for the Department of Arkansas. “This idea came after Past Post Commander Johnny Purdy Sr. and his wife, Audrey, were traveling to deliver church pew cushions and noticed a cemetery with larger flags when Johnny said, ‘I want to have flags like this on our cemetery.’ That was all it took for them to see a vision and make it possible!”
Residents of DeWitt, where Unit 158 is located, support the efforts of The American Legion Family and have made donations to the flag fund so that all local cemeteries have the larger flags.
“It took a little over a year for the community to realize where the flags came from, but once they did, the outpouring of support has been immeasurable,” said Purdy. “It is a humbling experience each and every year to stand at the foot of the grave of one of our country’s veterans and pay tribute to them for their sacrifice.”
To make sure no veteran is forgotten, maps are created of the cemetery to know where veterans’ graves are located.
ALA Junior members are also involved. They help place flags and spend hours before Memorial Day attaching wooden dowels to the flags to make sure they never touch the ground.
“That one moment of silence — standing at the foot of the grave of a veteran — that moment is more powerful than any word or act. It is just you and them,” said Purdy. “And when you place the flag … well, that feeling is always so overwhelming because we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them!”
By Jennifer Donovan
In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.