Flags honor veterans’ lives and sacrifices

— Created November 9, 2022 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

As one drives by Whidbey Island’s cemeteries this week, it would be hard not to notice the sea of red, white and blue flags dotting the grounds. The flags are a reminder of Veterans Day, a way to honor those now gone who gave years of their lives – and in some cases, their lives themselves – in service to our nation.

The Whidbey Island Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America oversees the placement of flags at the graves of veterans each year at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Oak Harbor, Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville, Bayview Cemetery in Langley and two smaller heritage cemeteries in Oak Harbor – a small token of appreciation to remind the community of the service and sacrifices made.

David Cohick organizes the flags for Maple Leaf Cemetery and helped get the Veterans Day flag project started.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “I served in the Navy 21 years, half in the reserves, half active duty. I’ve lived here 59 years and I thought this was something we should do. I just wanted to be a part of it. When you look at it, you can’t help but be proud. It’s a unique way of saying thank you.”

WIC/MOAA has been doing the flags for Veterans Day for 12 years now. Saturday, a small, but dedicated, group of volunteers was on hand at Maple Leaf to help place about 500 flags, which waved briskly in the gusty winds once they were planted.

Army veteran Amy has been volunteering for this project since 2015.

“I’m a veteran myself and it’s an honor to honor other veterans,” she said of why she helps every year.

Aiden, 14, was helping place flags for the first time.

“I wanted to support the community,” he said. “I felt like it was right.”

“I definitely wanted to help my community and be here for the veterans,” said 16-year-old Savanah, a member of NJROTC at Oak Harbor High School and a first-time volunteer.

“I know the veterans would appreciate this,” she continued. “I’m also here to pray over their graves and tell God to protect them and thank them for their service. I really wanted that opportunity to come here and do that and I wanted to be a part of it.”

While weather slowed down the placement of flags this year, they are all out now and will remain at the cemeteries until Nov. 19, adding a patriotic splash of color to the landscape.

“It would be so nice if people would drive by and see the beauty of it all,” Cohick said.