HOPEWELL, Va. -- A former Army soldier's dream see a powerful display of patriotism billowing at a historic cemetery in Hopewell is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a major discovery and the help of a local business.
Cecil "Butch" Jackson Jr. never imagined how quickly his dream of seeing the return of a massive patriotic display of American flags to City Point National Cemetery in Hopewell could progress after his story was featured by CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil before Memorial Day.
"I was amazed! I never thought there'd be this interest in this project, because I could never generate it before," Jackson explained. "It's kind of hard to walk on air with one leg, but I'm doing it, OK."
The Army veteran went searching for the
Jackson said he and the Disabled American Veterans Post 25 helped install more than 100 large American flags that gallantly streamed in the display known as the Avenue of Flags in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
But over the years, the flags went missing. Covil’s story about flags last week prompted people wanting to donate new flags to the cemetery.
However, Jackson made an amazing discovery at the cemetery a few days ago.
"They're in the front of that building, facing the headstones," he said.
Jackson said the massive flags are stored in ten footlockers inside the building.
"They're folded up and we opened them, and they're in fantastic shape. The poles are up in the attic," Jackson said.
The main reason the flags stopped being used was there was no one or group to carry on the tradition.
"Certainly, when we saw the flags were missing, we wanted to be part of the opportunity to replace those flags for them,” Susan Miller with American States Utility Services said.
Now that the flags have been located, the company, whose motto is "Serving Those Who Serve," made the decision to “putting those flags up on the events where the flags are placed for specific holidays.”
Mary Sue Krout, who was planning to donate a flag, was thrilled.
“I think it's awesome, incredibly awesome,” Krout said.
Jackson was also ecstatic about the public and company's response to his dream.
"I think they got a big heart and a love for the flag like I do, and it means so much to me or I wouldn't be here,” Jackson said.
Wreaths Across America Coordinator Don Vtipil said last week that bringing back the tradition would be a "great opportunity" for the community.
"I think that would be wonderful and I would love to see the Citizens sponsor something like this," VFW Post 63 Commander Lee Dixon of VFW Post 637 said.
Vtipil said more than 6,000 veterans are buried at the historic cemetery. Among them is Jackson's father, a decorated World War II soldier, who was laid to rest in 1957.
"It's kind of a quiet, little known cemetery, but it turns out to be beautiful when we do the wreaths and if you put some big flags out there, it would be just beautiful," Vtipil said.
The director who oversees City Point National Cemetery is investigating to see if the patriotic display can return.