Macomb, IL – Dozens of people gathered at the Macomb VFW Monday to celebrate Flag Day. They worriedly glanced toward the sky as a couple of sprinkles began to fall, but a major rain event held off.
VFW Post 1921 Commander Jack Thurman began the short ceremony by leading the crowd in the pledge of allegiance. Shortly thereafter, former U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Richard Denton raised the stars and stripes on one of the VFW's new flag poles -- which were dedicated that day.
Thurman says Flag Day is just as important to him as Veterans Day and Memorial Day. He says the soldiers commemorated on those days fought, and many died, for the values the American flag represents.
"Our flag, the national flag, is probably the most dearest thing to every veteran's heart next to his family. It's very dear to everybody," says Thurman.
Macomb VFW Post 1921 now has three flag poles facing Jefferson Street. The center pole carries the American flag, and the two surrounding poles contain the Illinois flag and a POW-MIA flag.
The center pole was dedicated to William "Bill" Hillyer, who passed away last year. His family donated money to help the VFW for construction.
But erecting the flag poles was no easy task. Construction was finished last month, but crews had to deal with wet ground, inclement weather and even some unusal items when they started last November.
"During the diggings, one of the guys came across an old gas cap that still had a key in it. It was a lock type of gas cap they used to use in the old days," said Thurman, noting that the current site of the VFW was a junkyard at one time.
Hillyer's family donated $1,900 to help construction. The VFW also put money into the project.