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Volunteers Create an Avenue of Flags

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From the time the first shots were fired to mark the American Revolution in 1775, our nation's men and women have fought on behalf of this country, and the rallying cry has ever been "freedom." Many have paid the ultimate price on behalf of that freedom, and none honored that sacrifice so eloquently as did our 16th President, standing on the blood-soaked field of a major battle where over 7,000 were killed, over 33,000 were wounded, and close to 11,000 were missing. "We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."

Lincoln's words spoken on the field at Gettysburg were a memorial to that battle's sacrifices, and still ring true over 150 years later as Americans pause this weekend to remember our dead from battles that stretch from that first revolution to our current engagement in Iraq. We build memorials of granite and marble and metals to remind us not to forget the sacrifices made—and in a peaceful little cemetery overlooking the small town of Clark Fork, a group of volunteers will, this weekend, raise flags as yet another symbol of that remembrance.

Unlike many Memorial Day flag ceremonies, however, Clark Fork native Ida Hawkins, in partnership with the Clark Fork VFW Post #10320, is looking to create a more permanent memorial in honor of the men and women who have served their country. Ida, traveling with a friend on the coast, happened upon an avenue of flags at a cemetery there and decided that was exactly what was needed at the cemetery in Clark Fork.

"It was absolutely beautiful," she said and Ida, whose family has a long military history, had five flags to kick off the project. Her maternal grandfather, Gordon Wilson, had served as Adjutant General for the state of Idaho and his children embraced the military tradition. "My mother's brother Bill went to Annapolis and her sister was a commander in the Navy, in charge of nurses at Pearl Harbor. When my uncle Robert was wounded in WWII, he woke up in the hospital at Pearl Harbor to see his sister leaning over him."

Ida's brother, Gordon "Joe" Daugharty, was also in World War II, and those five flags are now in the hands of VFW Post #10320 commander Nate Widgren, whose post members are working to build portable flag poles at the cemetery.

"We wanted the poles to be portable so we can bring them down to the ball field for the 4th of July and events like that," he explained.

The Post is in charge of the project, and is happily accepting cash donations to help with the cost of constructing poles, plus donations of flags given in honor of a military death. A veteran need not be buried at the cemetery in Clark Fork in order for the flag to be flown there, although Nate suggests limiting the project to residents from Trout Creek to the Montana line. Anyone outside that area interested in something similar  should call their local VFW Post. Currently in the works as well is a plan to create a memorial plaque, to be displayed locally, where those interested can purchase a name display of their loved ones who have served.

Donations may be made to the Clark Fork VFW Post #10320, Box 277, Clark Fork, ID 83811. Anyone interested in helping with the work, or who wishes for more information, can call Nate at 208-266-1252.

The Post will hold Memorial Day services at the Clark Fork Cemetery at 10 am, followed by a second service at the Hope Cemetery around 11:30 am. Clark Fork's cemetery is located approximately two miles from town on Lightning Creek Rd. Turn north off Hwy. 200 at Hays Chevron on Main and follow that to Lightning Creek. To reach the Hope Cemetery, turn off the old highway behind the old Hope School to access Grandview and follow it up to an amazing view of the lake.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

veterans, Memorial Day, Clark Fork, American flag, Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln, Ida Hawkins, VFW Post #10320

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