By: YNCS Michael Jarbeck
In 1996, The Reservist magazine published a two-part series entitled Coast Guard Monuments Across the USA. The series prompted a visit by a group Coast Guardsmen to Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). During the visit they noticed that many of the fallen servicemen had the appropriate service flag placed next to their headstone during the period leading up to Veteran’s Day. They also noticed that the Coast Guard standard was absent from gravesites of CG members. So commencing with Veteran’s Day 1998, U. S. Coast Guard flags have been placed on Coast Guard graves prior to Veterans Day leading to the birth if Flags Across America (FAA).
Over the past 15 years the FAA has proudly and reverently, displayed the Coast Guard Standard and National Ensign on over 400 ANC graves sites for our fallen shipmates who lived and died by the Coast Guard core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty. This year’s Flags Across America event at ANC will take place on November 2, 2013.
I ask all Chief Petty Officers Association Chapters consider adopting a National Cemetery in your area of responsibility and place the Coast Guard Standard and National Ensign on Coast Guard Veterans graves from November 2 until November 12, 2013 in observance of Veteran’s Day. A list of National Cemeteries can be found at the following website: http://www.cem.va.gov/cems/listcem.asp. The CPOA Chapters will need to work with the National Cemeteries administrative offices (that they adopt) for guidance and approval.
Flags Across America events are low-key family events open to all — veterans, those still serving, family and friends. An informal program led by your chapter is recommended prior to placement of the flags. Some program ideas include: presentation of the Colors by a Coast Guard unit, a guest speaker, benediction, playing of TAPS, Semper Paratus on bag pipes and signing of the National Anthem. In addition, consider offering local youth groups the opportunity to give a presentation on the history of the National Ensign and the National Anthem. A group photo to capture your event and publicize it locally. Finally, some simple refreshments are a nice way to say thank you to those who come out to support our veterans.
Flag Across America has some limited resources to assist CPOA Chapters in acquiring flags. If your chapter does wish to participate, send YNCS Michael Jarbeck an e-mail (see below) with the National Cemetery that your chapter will be adopting and number of National Ensigns and CG Standards needed. For example, if you contact a local National Cemetery and they indicate they have 200 Coast Guard Veterans buried in the cemetery, you would need 200 National Ensigns and Coast Guard Standards. The flags would be purchased and sent to your chapter. Again FAA’s resources are limited. There is the possibility local CPOA Chapters may have to incur part of the cost. Flags typically sell for $2.00 to $3.00 each.
If you would like a script from last year’s Flag Across America ANC event – contact FAA Chairperson YNCS Michael A. Jarbeck at 202 475-5220 or Michael.A.Jarbeck@uscg.mil.