A fitting tribute for veterans

A colorful and moving tribute to veterans occurs every Memorial Day weekend in Webster City. The Avenue of Flags is sponsored by American Legion Post 191 and brings more than 500 American flags to Graceland Cemetery. The red, white and blue display lines the roadways that wind through the picturesque cemetery.

Assembling the annual display takes a dedicated crew of volunteers, according to Legion Commander Ron Keigan who also serves as the chairman of the project. Members of the Webster City High School wrestling teams and their coach, Ted Larson, help set up the display each year.

“They are a tremendous help to us,” he said. “They help us unload and set up the flags.”

Keigan also credited the local Boy Scout troops for providing manpower to help assemble the mammoth display. Other community members also show up to help, he said.

The Avenue of Flags began in 1990 following a year or so of planning, Keigan said. At the time, Legion officials hoped for 200 to 400 to be displayed. By March 1990, there were 225 flags had been purchased by donors, veterans and organizations. By 1993, the total climbed to 379 and by 1996, there were 485 flags flown in Graceland Cemetery. The poles are marked with memorials to local veterans.

In order to store the growing number of flags and poles, Armond Ruppel built the trailers for flags. One trailer holds about 300 units and the other has about 260 units. Keigan said the Post was grateful to Dean Bowden and Webster City Custom Meats for providing space to house the trailers.

“Dean takes good care of us,” Keigan said.

The display usually is erected the Friday before Memorial Day. Keigan said the Legion usually leaves the flags in place for about a week.

“We’ve been trying to leave them up five days,” he said. “People really like them and enjoy driving through to view the flags.”