“Avenue of Flags” – May 31, 1965


Legionaires and LeMars Co. A Guardsmen stand at attention before the “Avenue of Flags” dedicated here Monday morning on the lawn of the Plymouth County courthouse. The stately moving ceremony was one of the crowd of some 500 persons viewed with awe and respect. (Photo courtesy LeMars Daily Sentinel)

Dedicate 91 Flags To War Dead

Under bright sunlight, over 500 persons stood I silence late Monday morning while an “Avenue of Flags” was dedicated in memory of the war dead on the lawn of the Plymouth County courthouse here.

As the roll call of 91 names was read, tears swelled in many eyes.

Some 200 persons took part in the dedication, including the Wasmer post drum and bugle corps, 100 men from LeMars Co. A of the Iowa National Guard, LeMars Municipal Band, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, city officials, and Legionaires.

The dedication of the 91 flags was the most impressive and meaningful public Memorial gathering in LeMars within recent memory.

As each name was read, Co. A. Guardsman carried the flags across the grassy slope to cement bases placed in the lawn over the weekend. The Guardsmen, under the direction of Capt. Alan Wilcox, stood at attention and the silence deepened.

Prior to the presentation of the flags, an eternal flame was lighted at the base of the courthouse steps by Legionaire Lavern Schleis.

Three veterans of three wars walked the length of the courthouse walk to place a wreath at the base of the eternal flame. The veterans were D.C. Lenihan, Spanish American War; John Raveling, veteran of World War I; and John Kilpatrick, World War II. They were accompanied by the Wasmer post drum and bugle corps color guard.

Rev. Merrill Davis, Westmar faculty member and army reserve chaplain, briefly explained the flags had been present to families of veterans at the time of burial. Then he read the roll call of the dead.

Family members, neighbors and friends stood in the silent moments and watched where each flag was placed. Names of the men were written on the side of the flags.

The city band played “The Star Spangled Banner” under the direction of Phil Hauan and Co. A. Guardsmen fired a volley salute.

Before the dedication ceremony opened, retired Cong. Charles B. Hoeven of Alton presented a flag which has flown over the national Capitol to Cub pack 188, and women of the Wasmer post Auxiliary presented the boys with a staff for the flag. The Cubs responded with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

Fred Riter, Wasmer post adjutant, said cars went by the courthouse throughout the remainder of the day to view the flags.

“The five avenue of flags also were filled with persons looking for a particular flag,” Mr. Riter said.

Under the direction of Mr. Riter, Wasmer post just a month ago began an appeal for burial flags. The response was overwhelming and gratifying, he said. One flag was presented only a half hour before the ceremony Monday.

Mr. Riter said flags will be collected throughout the year. The next dedication will take place on Veterans Day in the fall, with additional names read at that time.

Each year, as more flags come in, the roll call will continue on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. It is hoped the flag avenues will stretch completely around the courthouse, Mr. Riter said.

The half hour ceremony Monday was distinguished by its brevity and dignity. As the 91 flags unfurled in the breeze, the memories of Memorial Day became a living thing for young and old alike. Wasmer post has brought to Plymouth County something of merit and significance which can be continued from year to year.

Earlier, a 9 a.m. parade of the bands and marching units went to both LeMars cemeteries. Cong. Hoeven, in his excellent talk at LeMars Memorial Cemetery, urged strengthening the moral and Christian values of the United States.

“We have much in this country to preserve and protect,” Congressman Hoeven said.

While questioning the point of wars, the retired congressman pointed out that “every time the United States equivocates, we lose.” He said the nation must continue to help throughout the world, no matter what the cost.

Rev. Robert Fangman, superintendent of Gehlen school was the speaker at Calvary Cemetery.

While most of the community attention was on the flags at the courthouse, a larger number of householders than usual also displayed flags to observe Memorial Day this year.

~Source: The LeMars Daily Sentinel, June 1, 1965

Legionaire Lavern Schleis, in uniform of Wasmer post drum and bugle corps, lights eternal flame.  Mrs. Edith Langendorfer, Wasmer post Auxiliary, presents a flag staff to Cub Scout Dennis Kallsen. Receiving a flag flown over the nation’s Capitol from retired Cong. Charles B. Hoeven is Gary Karli of Cub pack 188. Men of LeMars Co. A., Iowa National Guard, served as the honor guard.

(All photos on this page courtesy LeMars Daily Sentinel, June 1 & 2, 1965 )


~If you have any other 1965 year photos or stories, please share by emailing the county coordinator.