May 26, 2009 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment

*published May 26, 2009
SW La. honors sacrifice with flags, cheers, tears

At the 26th annual Avenue of Flags Memorial Day ceremony, community leaders encouraged residents to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day.

“Too many people have forgotten the meaning and tradition of Memorial Day,” said state Rep. Chuck Kleckley. “Most people don’t even remember proper flag etiquette.”

Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, reiterated the claim that the display is the largest in the country with almost 800 flags. Maj. Gen. Hunt Downer, Jr., assistant adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard and a Houma native, gave the memorial address.

“First, it is a blessing that despite yesterday’s weather, everything cleared up to show this fantastic display of love, remembrance and patriotism,” Downer said.

He called the veterans and their families his extended family.

“We have all experienced the sacrifices this memorial represents,” Downer said.

Piggybacking on Kleckley’s words, Downer challenged everyone to remember Memorial Day as more than a holiday.

“We can never forget the true meaning of Memorial Day because that means forgetting the sacrifices that this flag represents have been made in vain,” Downer said.

He said many younger people don’t know the basic history of World War II or even who won.


The Avenue of Flags at Orange Grove-Graceland Cemetery was started in 1983 by the Sons of the American Revolution.

According to the group’s history, they started with 50 flags. This year, there were more than 700 flags lining the roadways.

Of the those flags, there were eight in a replica circle, which consisted of the eight previous official U.S. flags and the unofficial Betsy Ross flag with a circle of stars.

The flags are casket flags that were draped over the coffins of veterans who died in battle and donated to the Sons of the American Revolution for the event.

Local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops put the display together.

About 50 of them had to begin the assembly at around 5 a.m. Monday because of the high chance of rain and three inches of rain that were dumped on the area Sunday.

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