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Avenue of Flags 2020

Avenue of Flags 2020

The Avenue of Flags in Elmwood Cemetery is a sight to behold each year. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will not take place. Post file photo.

by Lois Allen

This year is not normal. It will be a first for our Cedar Springs American Legion Glen Hill Post 287. The first year since 1922, almost a century ago, that old glory will remain shuttered during the day of remembrance—Memorial Day.

The flags will not fly, the crowds will not gather at our cemeteries and the band will not play on. No cemetery walk and no dinner, the doors to the legion will remain closed.

The Cedar Springs Historical Society will not give their biographical and historical presentation of several veterans who are laid to rest at Elmwood Cemetery.  Members of the legion will not rise at dawn and begin their ritual of gathering the casket flags carefully stored at the legion and then transporting them to Elmwood to take their place on the avenue to honor our soldiers who served, but are no longer with us. We remember them. We honor them, not just on Memorial Day, but everyday.

Beginning around 5:30 a.m., approximately a dozen members of the legion join together, and according to Gene Kutchinski, former adjutant at the American Legion Post in Cedar Springs in an article published in The Post back in 2003, “We try to get it all done and have them all flying before 8:00 a.m.” He continued, “I believe we will have about 130 flags this year (2003).”

Each year, more flags appear on the avenue as we lose more of our hometown heroes who put their lives on the line in the service of our country. This year, in 2020, there are nearly 200 members of the armed services to be remembered and honored on the “avenue.”

“We will still be placing the smaller flags on the graves,” said Paul Schrier, treasurer for the legion. And when he says we, he means himself. He will personally place the smaller flags on the graves of approximately 190 veterans that rest in peace at Elmwood Cemetery.

Our American Legion is named after Glenn Hill of Cedar Springs. Drafted in September 1917 and sent to France as part of the 338th infantry, he was the first Cedar Springs soldier to die in WWI. Hill was awarded the distinguished service cross July 12, by General Pershing for conspicuous bravery in action. After being decorated twice for gallantry in action, Corporal Glen Hill died of wounds received in battle in the Argonne Forest in France on October 19, 1918. He was 25 years old.

In 2000, two decades ago, publisher Lois Allen (me) and our great editor Judy Reed embarked on a project to make sure we would remember each and every one of our soldiers that are no longer with us from as far back as the war of 1812. It was a daunting task that required going to several townships to pull all records of the deceased in nearly a dozen cemeteries. If a person was a veteran, it was noted in their records. It took more than a week’s worth of work to compile nearly 1,000 names, their rank and the war they fought in. Each year The Post publishes this list at no cost to the families, but sponsored by our area businesses, which are essential to make it happen. We are grateful to be able to do so.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.

Correction: In a story last week about the Avenue of Flags, it said that said Paul Schrier, treasurer for the legion, was going to personally place the smaller flags on the graves of approximately 190 veterans that rest in peace at Elmwood Cemetery. We were told this week that it was not Paul, but Tom Norton, that placed the flags on the graves. We regret the error.

Click link below to view our Memorial Day Tribute:


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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union


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