More than 700 flags set up at Evergreen Cemetery for Memorial Day
POST FALLS — Lois Tucker often comes to Evergreen Cemetery to visit her mom.
Friday morning, as the Rathdrum woman stood before the graveside of Mildred Tucker, who passed away in 2017, flags fluttered in the cold wind. There were rows and rows of Old Glory set up, and more to come. People young and old walked with flags bundled in their arms.
“It’s heartwarming to see all the volunteers come out and decorate,” Lois Tucker said.
She looked around at the rows of flags and flowers and smiled. Her father, who served in the Navy, would have been proud.
“Beautiful,” Tucker said, wiping away a tear.
About 40 veterans and community members, organized by American Legion Post 143, posted more than 700 flags at the graves of veterans at Evergreen Cemetery in advance of Memorial Day.
Tim Shaw, spokesman for American Legion, Steven H. Nipp Post 143, said the winter-like conditions did not keep veterans from their duty.
“Going through here remembering my dad, remembering my service, the people who have given their lives, I don’t care if it’s snowing, we’re going to be OK,” Shaw said. “We have plenty of time to sit down and watch television.”
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, members of Post 143 will be at the cemetery handing out brochures with the history of Memorial Day.
At 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., there will be a reading of the names of veterans who have passed since last Memorial Day, with a tolling of the bell and taps.
The Northwest Guardian Riders will visit Pine Grove Cemetery in Rathdrum at noon Monday to pay their respects and honor veterans.
“This is not about the ‘stay-at-home-order,’” wrote veteran Steven Cardoza. “It is about the rights and freedom our veterans died for.”
Friday, U.S. Army veteran Roy Rissling fought the wind to unfold flags as he placed them in tubes sunk into the ground.
He was happy to be there.
“I love it. All of my uncles and dad (Ervin) were in the service in World War II, so I carried on the tradition,” he said.
And like Shaw, he wasn’t about to let some rain, clouds and cold keep him home.
“It’s a little chilly, but I love it,” he said. “Actually, I’m getting warmed up.”
Families came out, too.
Becky Fisher had kids Hannah, Isabella and Sage in tow. They are part of Cub Scout Pack 250 in Post Falls, which was invited to help with the flags.
“We just wanted to serve our community and remember Memorial Day, what we’re about, and remember why we celebrate,” Fisher said.
Sally Kohn remembers what it’s about.
Her father, Robert Wachter, served in the Navy during War World II and saw action in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, considered the largest naval battle of the war. U.S. and Australian forces defeated Japan in the battle from Oct. 23-26, 1944.
Robert Wachter lies at rest in Evergreen.
“The legion meant a lot to him and it helped him a lot through his service,” Kohn said as she held flags in her arms and walked through the cemetery. “It was really tough on him.”
Her father, she said, saw friends killed in the war.
“The legion actually made a big difference in his life,” Kohn said. “He was able to open up and talk about some things.”
Kathleen Jones of Port Townsend, Wash., drove over Thursday. She wanted to plant a flag at the gravesite of her father, Lewis Boyd Hendy, who also served in the Navy during World War II and took part in D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy.
Her father was a member of American Legion Post 143.
Jones, a third-generation Navy member, paused when asked what it meant for her to be there Friday, carrying flags and talking about her father.
She fought back tears and said, “Everything.”