Rotary club unfurls ‘Flags for Heroes’ in Dover

 

Tammy Fenimore takes a photo of American flags during the Rotary Flags For Heroes Dedication at DelTech Terry Campus in Dover on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — For the fifth Memorial Day in a row, the high-traffic intersection of Scarborough Road and DuPont Highway in Dover will serve as a temporary memorial to fallen veterans.

More than 400 American flags were planted on Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus’s front lawn on Tuesday morning and will wave there until May 31 to honor the county’s war dead. The Flags for Heroes program — orchestrated by Dover-Capital City Rotary Club — is now in its fifth year. Rotary members, veterans and other dignitaries met in front of DelTech on Tuesday to dedicate the flags.

World War II veteran Leo J. Tos has attended the event for three years straight and said it “touches him in the heart” to see the community make a special effort to honor veterans. The now 93-year-old was drafted into the United States Navy back when he was a high school senior in 1943.

“I started serving in the southern Atlantic and along the east coast, but by the end of the war I was at Pearl Harbor assigned to the outfit responsible for resupplying the Pacific Fleet,” he said. “My primary job was to fly with test pilots to check over the aircrafts’ turrets and 50 caliber machine guns.”

After the war, Mr. Tos ended up in the Air Force and served 22 years of active duty that took him to Germany, France and Hawaii. Eventually he retired in 1967, last serving at the Dover Air Force Base.

President of the Dover Capital City Rotary, Ted Henderson, speaks during the Rotary Flags For Heroes Dedication at DelTech Terry Campus in Dover on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“This is a nice display, and I’m glad to see that veterans aren’t being forgotten,” he added.

Dover mayor Robin Christiansen said the memorial was a reminder to all passersby to take a moment to think of people who bravely serve the community.

“It’s important to honor our heroes because everyday military members and first responders put their lives on the line and deserve to be recognized for the service they do for our communities and our country,” he said.

Dover-Capital City Rotary Club president Theodore Henderson, a veteran with a 24-year military career himself, reminded the gathered group to not overlook the true meaning of Memorial Day.

“I’m a veteran too, but I’m one of the lucky ones because I got to come home,” he said. “If we look at each of these flags out here as representing 1,000 American soldiers, it’d be close to how many died in World War II alone — which was about 450,000 people.”

Team effort

Rotary club spokesman Dave Skocik said the Flags for Heroes effort is the culmination of several community groups working together.

“Obviously our partnership with DelTech is great and they’re very helpful — it’s great to have a spot that’s very visible and eye-catching so people driving by on Rt. 13 can see all the flags waving,” he said.

World War ll veteran Leo J. Tos , 93, smiles during the Rotary Flags For Heroes Dedication at DelTech Terry Campus in Dover on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Local architectural firm Becker Morgan Group helps lay out and mark the spots for symmetrical flag placement and Dover High School’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program provides volunteers to help set up the flags and remove them.

The funds for the flags themselves are provided by private donations and business sponsorships and the funding raised by the event goes toward scholarships and community programs, added Mr. Skocik.

“Sadly, Marion Klein who helped organize this event for the first few years passed away in November, so we like to think of this as a little bit of a memorial to her too,” he said. “She was a woman who knew how to get things done — she could pick up a phone and get 50 flags sold just like that. The Rotary club will miss her.”

Individual flags cost $50 to sponsor, for more information on the program or to sponsor a flag for next year, visit dccrotary.org or call John Kotzun at 302-674-4138.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.