August 2001/September 2001
So Proudly They Waved
Flag Day at the Vermont Veterans Home
John Miner spoke at ceremonies that made
his long-held dream a reality. Gov. Dean and Gen. Martha
Rainville, commander of the Vermont National Guard, are
right of Miner. Earle Hollings, commandant of the Vermont
Veterans HOme, is at far right.
In the evening, the uniformity of the
American flags was replaced with the variety of the fifty
state flags. Most were donated by VVA State Councils.
The spirit of America is alive in Bennington, Vermont, and VVA’s
Vermont State Council President John Miner knows how to mine that
Miner wanted to let those who drove by the Vermont Veterans
Home know about the important people who reside there. He
envisioned a border of flags lining the long driveway to the home,
one representing each of the fifty states and the territories of
the United States and heralding the heroic service of the
residents of the country’s second-oldest Veterans Home.
After three years of dogged perseverance, Miner was able to
convince others of his vision. On June 14, more than two hundred
people gathered at the Vermont Veterans Home in Bennington to
celebrate Flag Day and dedicate the new flag poles. Despite the
93-degree heat, veterans representing the five branches of service
and the Merchant Marine gathered to raise the 55 flags. Joining
the Veterans Home residents and staff were high school students,
local officials and politicians, and members of area veterans
service organizations and civic groups.
Colors were presented by VVA Chapter 601 Color Guard. At 2:30,
the Mount Anthony High School Band played "God Bless
America," and veterans paired with high school students to
raise the flags. "Take a minute to look around,’’ Miner
said. "Look at our youth, our leaders of tomorrow, our
veterans of tomorrow, and our veterans of today. How proud we are
of who we are and where we came from."
"The Star Spangled Banner" played as the flags were
raised. Jack Grace, a 101-year-old veteran of World War I, raised
a flag with Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Watching the fifty American
flags flutter in the breeze, Gen. Martha Rainville, commander of
the Vermont National Guard, said: "Our colors continue to
watch over us during time of war and time of peace, a symbol of
hope and perseverance."
Gov. Dean remarked on the teamwork, "The most important
thing is that this project was put together by a bunch of
different veterans groups working together. They worked hard; they
put up money; they put up an amazing effort--all under the
extraordinary leadership of John Miner, who does not take 'no’
for an answer from anybody, including me."
Contributors to the project included the American Legion, VFW,
BPOE, FOE, Wal-Mart, William Dailey & Sons, Jerome
Construction, other paternal organizations, and private citizens.
Earle Hollings, Commandant of the Vermont Veterans Home, noted:
"Today is about community. Today is about the joy of being an
American. This is a great day to get together and remember that
freedom is not free." Adm. Warren Hamm, president of the
Vermont Veterans Home board of trustees, delivered a special
"well done" to Miner and his crew.
In the evening, VVA members and friends returned to take down
Old Glory and replace it with all the state flags, most of which
were donated by VVA State Councils to the Vermont Veterans Home.
On September 21--POW/MIA Remembrance Day--fifty POW/MIA flags will
fly in Bennington.