Archived Story

Write Again … So here’s the reason as to why

Published 9:41pm Monday, January 14, 2013

“You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag.”
Eddie Hart was from LaGrange, a small town near Kinston. Like so many young men of his day, he was called up for duty during World War II. He went through all the training those who served their country received, in preparation for combat in Europe.
“And forever in peace may you wave.”
On Eddie Hart’s last leave at home, he told his barber that he felt this would be his last haircut there. Eddie Hart didn’t think he would make it back.
“You’re the emblem of the land we love.”
After all the intensive stateside training was over, Eddie shipped out for Europe.
He almost made it back home. It was near the end of the war, after weeks, months, of combat across the Low Countries and on into Germany, when Eddie lost his life. His premonition came true.
“The home of the free and the brave.”
Eddie’s body was brought back to the Netherlands, and given a proper burial in a U.S. Military cemetery. He is with hundreds of his fallen comrades-in-arms. And a long way from LaGrange.
“Every heart beats true under, red, white, and blue.”
The story doesn’t end here. Or there. You see, folks in the town in the Netherlands (Holland) near the cemetery have seen to it that the graves of their liberators didn’t — and still don’t — go unattended.
One Dutch family “adopted” Eddie’s grave. This sacred duty is passed down through family members.
“Where there’s never a boast or brag.”
A few years ago Eddie’s sister, who still lived in LaGrange, and was well into her 80s, along with younger family members who never knew Eddie, went over to visit his grave site.
“But should auld acquaintance be forgot.”
The older gentleman who “inherited” the privilege of seeing to Eddie’s final earthly resting place rode his bicycle the several miles out to the cemetery to join Eddie’s family. This was the first ever meeting of the two families who were “joined together” in such a powerful and poignant way. You can imagine the emotion.
“Keep your eyes on the grand old flag.”
Now, friends, you may wonder or ask why the interspersing of George M. Cohan’s song throughout this piece.
Well, here’s why.
Many, if not most, of our fellow citizens know very little about American history. Ask them when and why there are Memorial Day and Veterans (formerly Armistice) Day observances and most couldn’t tell you. To them it’s a day off, perhaps. Or something connected with the military. Maybe.
Even some who display our flag either don’t know or don’t care about the proper protocol. Simple things such as one shouldn’t fly the flag in inclement weather, or that if flown at night the flag is to be illumined. When two or more flags are flown, the American flag is always on the left (as you face the flags) or above.
So, why is this important? There are thousands, tens of thousands, of reasons why.
One — just one — of those reasons is because of Eddie Hart.
Note: “Thank You, Eddie Hart” has aired several times on UNC-TV. A production company in Wilmington made it. I have the company’s  address.

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