HENDRICKS - The second annual Fourth of July Parade of Flags in Hendricks was held in memory of, or in honor of veterans who had some connection with the town.
"We started last year and had 113 flags," said Marcy Sommervold, who organized the observance. "This year we added 64 more."
All along the lakefront by Veterans Memorial Park are concrete flag holders set into the ground along the road. Each place is marked in honor of a veteran, living or deceased. Flags are donated by volunteers to be placed in each. The flags dedicated last year were put in their respective places the night before. During the ceremony, the name of each new vet to be honored was called, with the name of the flag donor.
Photo by Steve Browne
Mark Keager and his son Elliot, 8, dedicated a flag in honor of Elmer Nelson, 90, Mark’s grandfather, Elliot’s great-grandfather, at the annual Fourth of July Parade of Flags in Hendricks. Nelson is a veteran of World War II, a former paratrooper with the 101st Airborne.
"Most have lived here at one time or another," Sommervold said. "But it's open to anyone who has a loved one who's a veteran."
At 90 years old, World War II veteran Elmer Nelson was almost certainly the oldest living veteran honored that day. Though nearly blind and confined to a wheelchair after a heart attack, Nelson was there keeping a commitment made almost a year ago when his family heard of the ceremony and signed him up.
"I was a paratrooper," Nelson said simply.
Not just a paratrooper, according to his family, but a member of the 101st Airborne who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Nelson's wife is from Hendricks. Nelson himself was for years the postmaster of Astoria, S.D., and a member of the Astoria American Legion post.
Carrying the flag for Nelson was his only grandson, Mark Kreager, assisted by his son Elliot, 8, from Belle Fourche, S.D.
"He's my grandfather," Kreager said. "They told us about it a year ago, so we made sure to save the date. It's very important."
As the names were called, Kreager stepped to receive the flag in his grandfather's name as Nelson sat in a golf cart, listening to an American Legion volunteer describe what was happening.
Mark and Elliot Kreager marched down past the row of flags to the spot that will be reserved for Nelson's flag from now on.
Elliot Kreager walked over to the golf cart and took his great-grandfather's hand.
"I'm bringing the flag in for my grandpa with my dad," Elliot Kreager said. "It's special, yeah."