Why should the county only pay tribute one day a year to the servicemen and women who died defending the country?
Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez, a veteran himself, said, “Back in early February, I was driving to Lockhart, and I saw the POW/MIA flag flying underneath the U.S. flag at a courthouse.
“I thought ‘what a nice gesture.’”
His next was—why couldn’t Bee County do the same?
“In the United States, we designate the last Monday in May as Memorial Day, which honors all the men and women who have lost their lives in battle.
“The POW/MIA flag recognizes all those Americans who were prisoners of war or missing in action,” he said.
“Most of them died in captivity, or their remains were never found.”
So, for all of May, this flag will fly outside the courthouse to honor those soldiers. This tribute grew beyond what Rodriguez had hoped his fellow court members would approve during their meeting this week.
About seven years ago, the county dedicated the Veterans Plaza across the street to those who died in battle, so there could be no more fitting place to fly the flag than outside the courthouse.
Rodriguez said he remembers that morning dedication vividly.
“I saw a Gold Star Mother, and a Gold Star Mother is one who has lost a child in battle defending our country,” Rodriguez said.
Initially, Rodriguez had proposed the flag fly outside only the courthouse.
Commissioner Ken Haggard took it a step further.
“Let me amend that to say all county flagpoles,” he said. “I think it is a great gesture and long overdue.”
Rodriguez said that the veterans organizations within the county should be able to get enough flags donated to fly on all the county flagpoles.
The POW/MIA flag contains a white disk bearing in black silhouette the bust of a man, watchtower with a guard on patrol, and a strand of barbed wire. Above the disk are the white letters POW and MIA framing a white five-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the white motto: “You are not forgotten.”
On Aug. 10, 1990, the U.S. Congress passed a law which recognized it “as the symbol of our nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the nation.”
Other than “Old Glory,” this flag is the only flag ever to fly over the White House, having been displayed in this place of honor on National POW/MIA Recognition Day since 1982.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.