This is a story about my father's casket flag and the dedication of my Legion post (Anderson-Mayberry Post 91 of Yarmouth, Maine) to honor deceased veterans. 100 years ago, my father, Everett E. White Sr., was part of the expeditionary Army that went to France to help end the war in Europe. He was a P.F.C. attached to a medical unit and he served as a combat medic/ ambulance driver. He was not wounded, but he was subjected to a poison gas attack which affected his health for the rest of his life. He came home, got a college degree, married my mother and raised four children. He was a very patriotic veteran and he made sure that our family always participated in the Memorial Day services at our local cemetery in West Peabody, Mass. He died in a VA hospital in 1947 at the young age of 50. After his death, the local veterans groups held Memorial Day services at his gravesite for many years. My mother put his casket flag in a cardboard box and there it stayed for 70 years. I recently inherited this flag from my older sister.
I have been a member of the Legion for several years. One of the many things that our post does for the community is "the flying of the Flags" on the village green, in front of the Town Hall. These flags are all casket flags that have been entrusted to our post by the veterans' families and they are flown four times each year: Memorial Day, Flag Day, 4th of July and Veterans Day. We are currently flying 65 flags but sadly, that number increases each year. After the flags are raised, a tag is affixed to the pole, identifying the veteran's flag and includes his name, rank, unit, branch and era of service. Family members enjoy browsing among the flags to locate their loved ones. The flags are not flown in inclement weather and they are folded military-style and carefully stored away between the flyings.
This past Memorial Day, after 70 years in a cardboard box, my father's flag was added to the group and flown for the first time. I am now 86 years old and when my time is up on this earth, my father's flag will also be my casket flag and hopefully our two spirits will fly together over beautiful Yarmouth for a very long time to come.
Sincerely, Everett E. White Jr.