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Posted on Jun 18, 2015

Trailer that holds veterans’ flags in need of new home

A late-afternoon rainstorm passing through Quincy on Memorial Day left a lasting impression on longtime local farmer Carl Yeates.
A Boy Scout leader for 11 years, Yeates was preparing to help his troop take down flags at the Quincy Cemetery when the rain clouds hit. Boy Scout Troop 76 and community volunteers try to put the flags up four times a year at the cemetery.
Volunteers that day each randomly grabbed several flags to take home, where they could be air dried. Yeates himself hung 28 flags around his home.
But, looking closely at the flags, Yeates soon realized he knew nearly every one of the names on the flags he had taken home.
Many were fathers of his classmates. Some were business leaders in town. There was Lester Melroy Kissel, owner of Kissel’s variety store and a man who knew every kid in town, Yeates said. There was also Clarence E. Kyle, who built the first bowling alley in Quincy. Others were personal, such as Walter Herring, who used to drive truck on Yeates’ farm. And in the random group was also the flag of Steele T. Freer, Yeates’ former Scoutmaster.
For Yeates, having those flags in his home turned into a powerful thing.
“It just ended up being a touching and emotional thing,” Yeates said. “It made me appreciate my community even more.”
The flags – casket flags that were donated to the community by families of deceased veterans – have been in the care of the Boy Scout troop for the past several years. In fact, the flags have been a longtime community project. The project started with 50 flags and has grown to about 175 today, said Allan Bowman, who has been putting the flags up for about 25 years.
“It’s almost sacred,” Bowman said of the flags. “It’s representative of the sacrifices made for freedom.”
The flags represent community members, Yeates said.
“We are honored to be the custodians of the families’ flags,” he said.
However, the special community project is now in need of a space to store the trailer that holds and transports the flags. The large trailer once was stored in the old fire station near city hall. However, the city recently demolished the building because it is building a new police department and city hall. For the time being, the trailer is stored on a farm outside of town.
The Scouts are looking for a secure and covered space for the trailer, which is about 9 feet wide and 22 feet long with its tongue. Volunteers would like the space to be in town so that it is easily accessible, Bowman said.
In the future, volunteers also hope to dig more holes at the cemetery so all the flags can be displayed, Bowman added. At this time, only about 120 flags can be displayed because some 25 more holes must be dug, he said.
But, for now, the Boy Scout leaders would be happy if someone in the community stepped up to offer a place to store the trailer. Anyone who has a space for the trailer is asked to call Bowman at 750-0447.
As for Yeates, he said Memorial Day was extra special this year because it also was his birthday. To have the flags in his home and to be able to reminisce about the community and its veterans was a special birthday gift.
“It was kind of the end to a perfect day,” he said.


— By Jill FitzSimmons,