Flag-arrangers pay homage to area’s war dead

Published 1:08 am Sunday, May 29, 2011

American Legion Auxiliary Unit 15 placed small American flags at some area cemeteries early Friday morning to honor the nation’s war dead during Memorial Day weekend. It received help from some of Washington’s bravest — firefighters/EMTs with the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Department.

American flags ring Pamlico Memorial Gardens. (WDN Photo/Edwin Modlin II)

Betsey Lee Hodges, president of the local American Legion Auxiliary, said the unit has been putting flags at cemeteries for 80 years and will continue to do so.

“I haven’t been doing it for 80 years, per se,” she said, “but I will continue to do as long as I can.”

Washington fire Lt. Doug Bissette said the firefighters/EMTs have been helping out for the past few years.

“It’s something we’ve been helping out with for awhile,” Bissette said.

He said when people come out and help do things like putting flags out for Memorial Day, it really puts things
into perspective and they get more of an understanding of what the country has been through.

“What we do is come out there and put flags out to honor the veterans where they’re buried as a way of saying, ‘Thank you for your service,’” Hodges said. “We appreciate everything.”

Hodges said Memorial Day is a day for remembering those who have died in service of the United States of America, and it is a day that people of every generation in the nation can appreciate and remember all military personnel.

The group started at Pamlico Memorial Gardens by putting flags along the entrances and around the cemetery’s perimeter.

Scottie and Teresa Taylor said they have been helping since 2008. Their son, Spc. Joel Taylor, an Army tank-crew member, was killed in Iraq on June 24, 2008.

Taylor said his son and three other soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb.

“We help assist putting the flags out in honor of his memory,” he said.

Their oldest son, John Scott Taylor, recently left the Army after serving 12 years in the 82nd Airborne Division.
“When I asked him why he got out, he said he was just tired of getting shot at,” Taylor said.

Hodges said she and other enjoy putting the flags out.

“And we really appreciate every bit of help the Washington Fire Department has done for us,” she said. “Just
by coming out here means a lot to us.”

Bissette said it was an honor and the least the department could do.

After putting American flags out at Pamlico Memorial Gardens, the volunteers made their way to Cedar Hill Cemetery and Oakdale Cemetery to put out more American flags.