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Ron Jackson: Placing flags makes holiday meaningful

May 19, 2019

Just like that, summer holiday season is upon us. Our first three-day weekend of the season is next week. The Memorial Day holiday has become the unofficial kickoff of our grilling and traveling season.

Officially, Memorial Day is designated to remember, reflect and honor those who have served our country but are no longer with us.

There is some debate when and where the first observance of Decoration Day began. Several places claim to be the first.

Whenever and whoever was first is not relevant.

What is most important is that we pay our respects.

They may no longer be with us. However, we should be cognizant of the service and sacrifice made by every man or woman who put on that uniform and stood ready to defend what we often take for granted. The national day of observance is the fourth Monday of May. It never changes.

How one observes is a choice. It can be a few seconds of reflection or a visit to a grave site. I hope that you will find a moment and will encourage our young to do likewise.

Speaking of young, a local young man has dedicated more than 40 years of his life making sure our community never forgets our veterans.

By his own admission, Ed Peters is not a young man.

He is a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Since his end of service, he has made it his duty to place flags on the grave site of every veteran at three local cemeteries for more than four decades.

Each year, the number of flags to be placed has increased.

Ed won’t say exactly how many years he has been doing it. Actually, those who know Ed will quickly point out that he doesn’t say much, he just does what needs to be done.

He will publicly extend an invitation to anyone willing and able to help. Then, he will commence placing flags on the Thursday and Friday mornings before Memorial Day with those who are there.

I have had the honor of participating in Memorial Day flag placement for a fraction of Ed’s tenure.

Along with a few others I have met over the years, two things remain constant: the number of flags increase every year, and Ed Peters will be there.

I plan on being there again this year.

Please construe this as a formal invitation to you to join Ed and the rest of us young people.

If you can find a pair of comfortable walking shoes and can walk on uneven ground for a while, you can be part of a team.

The time it takes to place more than 5000 flags always depends on how many people there are.

No matter when you arrive or how much time you can give, it will be greatly appreciated. There will be someone waiting to include you on a team.

This year’s flag placement begins Thursday, May 23, at 8 a.m. at Mount Cavalry Cemetery in Kankakee.

Mount Cavalry is on East Court Street west of I-57 at exit 312.

Once completed, the detail moves to Mound Grove Cemetery on Brookmont Avenue until finished.

Friday, May 24, at 8 a.m., flag placement resumes at Memorial Gardens on East Route 17 at Lowe Road.

If you have any questions, please call Ed at 815-953-4572. I guarantee you that phone call won’t take long. Your call will not be a recording. Ed will answer,

“Hello. Yes, this is Ed. Yes, we are placing flags. Yes, you are welcome to join us. We will be at this location for however long. Thank you.”

If you have any able bodied youth who are out of school, bring them along. Their help will not only lesson the load on everyone else, the event makes for a very teachable experience.

If you cannot make it, please pass along the invitation and Ed’s information to anyone who can. There will be a group of smiling folks, at least the first day, waiting to have you join their team.

Hoping to see some new faces this year.

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