Those beautiful flags that pop up around Memorial Day in Plains every year do not just magically appear.
Early on a quiet, gray Saturday morning, May 18, Plains VFW quartermaster Joe Eisenbrandt follows a protocol he could probably do in his sleep. For the fifteenth year, this Navy veteran faithfully attends to his commitment, placing Memorial Day flags to honor American veterans. Others help out as they have for decades, whether here or anywhere else they have lived, keeping the memory of their comrades in arms alive.
By 8 a.m., there are four. Joining Joe were Bill Beck, Navy; Lance Colvard, Marine Corps; and Ed Foste, Navy. They share a few stories, with a nod to each other’s service, and softly joke about whose branch of the military is better. Then they split off, searching for the graves of veterans throughout Plains cemetery. Never mind the drizzle and wet feet. There’s an important job to do.
Ed went to the effort last year of placing small plastic tubes into the ground in front of the veteran headstones, making it easier to insert the flags. In the process, he learned from the VFW roster that there are graves of men who served in the Spanish American War, and at least one from the Civil War, marked “Gylard Mosley.” He makes sure to go there first, as it difficult to find, somewhat sunken and overgrown with grass.
It takes quite a while, with extra trips to the pickup to get another armload of flags. These men are diligent, making every effort to not miss one. By the end, the fresh spring green is proudly decorated in anticipation of Memorial Day ceremonies next weekend, in timeless tribute to those who carried our nation’s flag into battle.