(Le Mars) — Rainy weather forced the 54th annual “Avenue of Flags” program inside to be held at the Le Mars Community Middle School Auditorium on Monday. Due to the wet conditions, the local American Legion Wasmer Post #241 was unable to display the nearly 1400 flags on the Plymouth County Courthouse lawn and surrounding area. However, during the indoor ceremonies a total of 25 additional flags were dedicated this year.
Dating back to the Civil War and continuing up through the War on Terrorism, Legion members with the assistance of the Legion Auxiliary placed wreaths to honor the fallen heroes from each war the United States has fought.
Past Commander Jim Rolfes, again read his poem “Come Visit My Grave,” and Legion member Pat Murphy read the more than 1400 names of veterans with a Le Mars connection that have died.
“Come Visit My Grave”
by Jim Rolfes, Le Mars, Iowa
I am a veteran under the sod. I’m in good company; I’m up here with God.
Come to my grave and visit me. I gave my life so you could be free.
Today is Memorial Day throughout this great land. There’s Avenues of Flags, parades and bands. I can hear music, the firing squads and Taps.
Here come my comrades, the Legionaires, the Blue Caps.
One of them just put a flag on my stone. Someday he’ll have one of his own.
Some think of this day as just a day free of toil. While others are busy working the soil.
They say they have plans, other things to do. Don’t put us aside as you would an old shoe.
Come visit my grave in this cemetery so clean. This is what Memorial Day means.
There are many of us lying in wakeless sleep. In cemeteries of green and oceans of deep.
It’s sad that for many who fought so brave. No one comes to visit their grave.
They died so you could have one whole year free. Now can’t you save this one day for me?
There are soldiers, sailors, airmen up here. Who went into battle despite their fear.
I’ve been up here talking to all those men. If they had to do it over, they’d do it again.
Look, someone is coming to visit my grave. It’s my Family, for them my life I gave.
My wife, I remember our last embrace. As I left, the tears streamed down your face.
I think you knew the day I was shipped out. I wouldn’t return, your life would be turned about.
There’s my daughter that I used to hold. Can it be that you’re nearly twenty years old?
Next month is to be your wedding day. I wish I could be there to give you away.
My son’s here too, Dad’s little man. Always love your country, do for it what you can.
There is one thing that really did bother. Is seeing you grow up without the aid of your Father.
I wish you could all hear me from up above. That’s a father’s best gift to his children is love.
And what better way to prove my love to the end. Is that a man lay down his life for his friends. I see it’s time for you to go home. Your visit made it easier to remain here alone.
Don’t cry honey, you look so sad. Our children are free, you should be so glad.
Daughter, thanks for the bouquet so cute. Thank you son for that sharp salute.
Come again, oh, I forgot, you can’t hear me from up here. But I know you’ll come visit me again next year. I hope all veterans are treated this way. On this day to remember…Memorial Day.
Photos courtesy of Krista Plueger.