American Legion hoists flags, big & small

U.S. Army Specialist Kourtney Henderson (left) and U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Chris Thompson unfold the American flag near the start of the ceremony outside the American Legion building.

“A slice of lemon on the plate,” Past Commander and Chaplain of American Legion Samuel Mares Post 8 Donald York said, “reminds us of their bitter fate.”

“The salt sprinkled on the plate,” he said as he shook some onto the lemon, “reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.”

York recited those piercing words as he performed the P.O.W. and M.I.A. remembrance service outside the American Legion building in Douglas on the morning of Nov. 11, as part of the group’s Veteran’s Day ceremony.

It was a shorter service this year, held outdoors and with no traditional breakfast before the ceremony – measures taken to prevent community spread of the coronavirus - but the event was no less emotional or important.

The ceremony opened with the firing of the cannon near the building. U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Chris Thompson, U.S. Army Specialist Kourtney Henderson and Douglas High School Band director and U.S. Army Specialist Tim Painter then folded the American flag and ran it up the flagpole.

Members of the Douglas High School Boulevard choir group then gracefully sang the Star-Spangled Banner followed by God Bless America, as the cold wind swept their hair across their faces.

The ceremony concluded with York setting up the small table outside the building for the P.O.W. and M.I.A. remembrance service. The table is small, he said, to symbolize the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.

Douglas community members and veterans who attended the service said they appreciated the importance of the event, and commended the American Legion for continuing to organize it, in spite of the pandemic.

Veterans there also said they were glad to live in a town that so proudly recognizes their service to their country.

“I love it,” retired U.S. Marine Corps member Dick Bartos said of the ceremony.

“Douglas and the American Legion do a good job.”

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