Since 1963 countless American flags have flown at the Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home on Memorial Day to honor the veterans who have sacrificed their lives to serve the United States of America.
The flags line the walkway of the memorial park's campus, each five foot by nine and a half feet in size – the same dimensions of the flags that cover a veteran’s casket.
Research performed by the memorial park found that nearly every veteran from Turlock who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War have a flag waving at the park on Memorial Day. The flags have been donated by family members and loved ones and at one point the memorial park had over 700 flags waving in tribute to the fallen service members. However, while the meaning behind the flags hasn't waned, with time the physical flags have lost their luster.
"Many of those flags have gotten so old they’ve yellowed and they’ve torn. So, two years ago we went through and pulled all of the ones that needed to be retired and the number was up around 175 which made a big dent in the veteran’s flag lane," explained Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home General Manager Scott Atherton.
Thus began the Adopt a Flag campaign.
Atherton solicited help from local service clubs to recoup the number of flags that once accented the Memorial Day services. The community responsed to Atherton’s call and close to 100 flags were replaced at $70 apiece. While the cemetery is able to replace a certain number of flags each year, it does get expensive said Atherton, and there is still a growing need for flags to maintain the memorial park's Memorial Day celebration.
“Even if just five or 10 people contribute it can really make a difference,” said Atherton."The flags fill up just about every street in the cemetery and as the cemetery gets bigger we would like to get more flags to fill all of the streets. It’s a beautiful sight and very meaningful to everyone."
Those interested in purchasing a flag to honor a veteran at the annual Memorial Day celebration can do so by calling Turlock Memorial Park and Funeral Home at 632-9111. Flags cost $70 and bear the veteran's name, year of birth and year of death.