Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day - The Way One Man Remembers Throughout the Year


Monday, May 27th is Memorial Day in the U.S., a  day set aside to remember those who have died while in the service of this country.




Larry Eckhardt
But it doesn’t have to be Memorial Day for an Illinois man to honor fallen military men and women.  Larry Eckhardt has traveled over 72,000 miles, given out over 70,000 small flags, and been assisted by over 30,000 volunteers in the past seven years, as he's paid tribute to our fallen soldiers.

Eckhardt of Little York, Illinois goes to as many Midwestern communities as he can, and lines the funeral procession route of fallen Armed Forces personnel with American flags. 



Eckhardt began his ‘mission’ in 2006. With the help of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and private donations, he has collected over 3,000 flags over the past seven years.


When Eckhardt finds out about the death of a military person from the Midwest, he takes his trailer, loaded with flags, to that community.


Volunteers from the area assist him in lining a mile or more of the funeral route with American flags mounted on 10-foot steel poles.  Eckhardt sees this as a way of honoring those who have served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Afterward, volunteers help take the flags down.  Eckhardt gives credit to all who assist, saying he couldn’t do it without the local volunteers. His helpers have ranged from the ages of 3 to 93, and the “Flag Man” appreciates them all.

Surprisingly, Eckhardt was never in the military.  He simply feels that this is a way he can honor those who have died in the line of duty.  He has paid tribute to over 100 service personnel: sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines.

Eckhardt came up with the idea after attending a local funeral in Galesburg, Illinois a few years ago.  The community showed up to support the family and pay their respects, but there were few flags flying. And, as a symbol of our country, something these service members pledged allegiance to, it seemed to Larry that something major was missing.


So he purchased 150 flags and began taking them to area military funerals, putting them out along the funeral route. Eckhardt uses donations and his own money to pay for the flags, and his travel expenses, because he feels that this is how every fallen American soldier should be honored.  As he sees it, there can never be too many flags for a soldier.

When in a community, Eckhardt does not attend the funerals or meet the families. He feels that his job is to line the funeral route with flags as a way to express the country’s appreciation for service well done.

Communities have expressed tremendous gratitude for his “labor of love.” Military families have been amazed and touched by his generosity of spirit, and his depth of caring for their fallen sons and daughters.


DAR Award
Eckhardt tends to shun the spotlight. But regardless of his wishes, he has been recognized by several groups and has received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and a Patriotic Citizens Award from the VFW in Illinois.

Now citizens across the country are banding together to request that Eckhardt be honored with one of the highest awards in the country.  Doug Hesler has started a Facebook page called, ‘Larry Eckhardt ‘The Flagman’ @ https://www.facebook.com/LarryEckhardtTheFlagman.  Hesler is hoping that enough people will contact the President and the White House that Larry will be honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Presidential Citizens Medal
This award is the second highest civilian award given in the U.S. (The first is the Presidential Medal of Freedom.)  President Richard Nixon established the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1969 to acknowledge outstanding U.S. citizens.  The medal may be granted to any American citizen “who (has) performed exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens"




If you are interested supporting this initiative, contact White House.  You may send your request to President Obama @ http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

Or you can send a request to Vice President Joe Biden @ http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments/vp
You may mail a request to:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Please include your e-mail address

Eckhardt has hopes that there are others throughout the country who will take this idea and organize similar groups.  If you would like to learn what you, or your group, could do to volunteer assistance with the flags, start a group, or to make a donation, contact Larry at
Larry Eckhardt
323 South Broadway, Apt 1-S
Little York, IL  61453


Memorial Day is a time when we remember those who have died in the service of our country. Each Memorial Day the flag is raised to full staff, then lowered to half-staff in remembrance of more than one million men and women who have died in the service of this country.  At Noon, the flag is raised to full staff to signify a nation that will rise up and continue to fight for liberty and justice, for all.

As we've seen, just one person, rising up, can make a difference. Thanks for the reminder, Larry!

~ Joy