LINDALE — It is a simple apostrophe but it means so much.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs states that the official name for the Nov. 11 holiday is Veterans Day, not Veteran’s Day “because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, it is a day for honoring all veterans.”
That’s what Smith County veterans were embracing as they placed flags on gravesites in the area recently.
This past Wednesday, Bill Hamby, Dennis Richburg and Vern Williams were honoring their fellow veterans at Lindale City Cemetery, going from grave to grave to place Old Glory on each site.
The three are members of American Legion Jordan-Duncan Post 15 of Lindale. Each year, Post 15 plants the flags to “show we have not forgotten,” said Hamby, vice commander of Post 15.
He said the group places some 790 flags at the 12 area Lindale cemeteries. He noted other American Legion posts, including Tyler’s Post 12, across the country do this each year.
“It is a sense of duty,” said Hamby, who served in the Marines from 1953 to 1983. “We want to honor our fallen brothers and show our appreciation.”
Richburg, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, said there is a “sense of camaraderie” among veterans. He added the American Legion members place the flags and pick them up after a week to prevent fading.
“We do this to honor our veterans and show we have not forgotten,” Williams said. “Back in the 1960s when they returned from Vietnam or around the world they were spit upon. In some small way we will try to make up for it and show our appreciation.”
Williams, who was in the Navy and served in the Middle East aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., said he stops at each grave and “talks” to the veterans and reflects on their service. Williams recently visited the destroyer as it is now a museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. It was the first time he had stepped on the ship since 1969.
Williams also noted at Lindale City Cemetery there are veterans from all wars “including two Confederate veterans. I placed flags there because they were soldiers too.”