Story of flag
As so often occurs in relating stories, the history behind the flag from Mount Union cemetery is interlaced with threads of truth and with those strands from listeners' inferences. In the retelling, some of the facts are there, yet those added suppositions have appeared woven among the truths.
The flag flew first over our United States Capitol on Nov. 29, 2005 — flown in celebration of my father, Douglas Wearne Windom. He was a good man. The flag and its history were a gift of love given to Dad in recognition of his genuine character and for his living so honorably throughout his life.
Dad was a World War II veteran. After graduating from Shedd High School as valedictorian — his grades were a bit better than his classmate's grades — and those two young men constituted the entire senior class that year. Dad was drafted after high school and served in the Philippines and in Japan. Shortly after his invasion orders were cut, the war ended.
"Up Home" at Mom and Dad's house on Whiskey Butte, east of Sweet Home, Dad flew a clean, bright flag each day for several decades. It was his quiet way of showing his pride at having served in the military, and in being a citizen of our country.
Douglas died in August of 2006. The funeral was not a military one, though his nephew and Vietnam veteran, Ron Reed, did recognize Dad's military service. With formality, he presented Clara, Mom, with a flag. Dad would have been pleased at that. Family and lifetime friends filled the church, overflowed it, that day. Dad is still much loved and held dearly in many hearts.
So now, Dad's flag that flew over the Capitol in 2005 and over Mount Union cemetery for the past year, has again come back to me. It is at its best today. The once vibrant colors are quite faded. While hanging on windless days, the sun bleached subtle streaks in the blue. With the flag unfurled, these soft rays fan diagonally down across the blue, as if the stars have tails in a beautiful burst. The red stripes are pink, but the whites still glow. Each stripe ends torn and ragged from snapping in the winds.
I am thankful to the Scouts. Evident in the photograph is their solemnity and reverence in honoring those who have died for our country. They were told the flag flew with the spirit of a U.S. soldier killed in Vietnam. Though not true in this singular aspect, that flag they are touching does symbolize all who have died for us — a million spirits contained in such a small symbol.
I am grateful to those scouts, to all of them for their ceremony in lowering and folding Dad's flag. They offered their emotion and respect for others they will never know. Those young fellows' gifts now make Dad's flag perfect.