Members of the Catoosa County Veterans Memorial Flag Committee met with U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Rome, on Tuesday to collect 400 new American flags she helped them order in advance of the biannual Festival of Flags in Ringgold.
During the event, more than 1,900 flags and wooden crosses will be erected throughout the city to honor deceased service members and veterans from Catoosa County, Georgia. Each handmade cross has a veteran's name and branch of service listed on it.
The first of the flags will go up Nov. 4 and will stay up for at least two weeks and come down sometime after Veterans Day on Nov. 11. They will go up again next year ahead of Memorial Day, as they do each year.
"I'm so proud of the people here and their patriotism," Greene said Tuesday as she took a tour to look at the crosses that have been used during the festival in previous years.
"Many places and people across our country just don't respect our flag or the sacrifices that have been made for our country in past wars. It is such a privilege to represent a district that cares so much about the American flag, veterans and the people who have sacrificed or lost their lives for our freedoms."
Greene said she felt it was particularly important to honor the military this year following the deaths of 13 U.S. service members in Afghanistan in August.
Those service members would be honored, Greene said, by projects like the Festival of Flags that recognize the sacrifices made to protect the nation.
"Those young soldiers shouldn't have died. We need to do everything we can right now to make sure veterans know how much we love them and understand we really appreciate them," Greene said. "It's projects like this that people here in Ringgold work so hard on that help them feel special, and they should feel special. They are the greatest among us in our nation who were willing to join the service and risk their lives for our freedoms."
Catoosa County Board of Commissioners Chairman Steven Henry said getting the new flags would not have been possible without Greene, whose standing as a member of Congress ensured the flags were delivered quickly and at a "substantial" discount.
Gilbert Childers, a member of the flag committee who organizes the set up of the Festival of Flags each year, said the help Greene provided in ordering the flags for the county made it possible to recognize more than 1,900 veterans, more than have ever been honored during the Veterans Day display in the past. Typically he said there are closer to 1,500 flags.
"It means a lot to me that she did this for us. She didn't have to. It's not the kind of thing she's going to be nationally recognized for," Childers said. "But it means a lot to us. For veterans here to see that someone with her power and influence really cares about them and what they've given, that means something. It means something to me, too, that when we reached out, she didn't turn us down. She got back to us fast, where other people probably wouldn't have."
Families of deceased service members and veterans who would like to have a flag and cross put up in honor of their loved one should fill out an application at City Hall in Ringgold, 150 Tennessee St., by Friday. The cost is $65.
"If somebody wants to get involved and volunteer to help us put out flags, they can do that," Childers said. "We want to get as many people to show their support as we can."
For more information about applying for a flag or volunteering with the Catoosa County Veterans Memorial Flag Committee, contact Gilbert Childers at 865-300-7057.
Contact Kelcey Caulder at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.