When the wind blows briskly through the Avenue of Flags in Cape County Park North, it is an impressive sight.
More than 700 American flags snap and pop as the wind lifts the cloth and lets it fall on each flag bearing the stars and stripes.
At the top of the hill is Veterans Memorial Plaza. Flying high atop the centerpiece flagpole flies a 20-foot by 30-foot American flag.
That flagpole stands near Freedom Rock, a boulder painted with patriotic scenes and local military heroes. Dedicated last year on Veterans Day, Veterans Memorial Plaza features a granite wall engraved with veterans’ names. One purpose for the plaza was to commemorate these fallen heroes on days when the flags are not flying.
A magnificent display of patriotism, the Avenue of Flags is a sober reminder that the freedoms we enjoy in this country are not free. Each flagpole bears a name of a Cape County resident who has served his or her country and died either in the line of duty or post service. The flags originally draped the caskets of those men and women whose names now adorn their poles.
The Avenue of Flags has a 32-year history. It became reality on Memorial Day 1987, when 80 casket flags were donated to VFW Post 3838 by the families of deceased service members.
More flags have been added as the years have gone by. When the roadway from the park entrance to Veterans Memorial Plaza had no more room for flags, the additional flags were placed beside the roadway heading toward the Conservation Center.
The flags fly on five designated dates of observance. In addition to Veterans Day, flags fly on Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Patriot Day.
Last summer, LED lights on poles were added to the Avenue of Flags, illuminating the flags all night. This allowed the flags to remain posted for longer than one day. (Cape Girardeau VFW Post 3838 donated the lights and park employees provided the labor to install them.)
The flags were illuminated for the first time the night of Wednesday, July 3. They remained on display until Friday, July 5.
On May 14, 2010, a memorial to fallen law enforcement officers was dedicated as an extension of Veterans Memorial Plaza. Etched on three black granite panels are the names of officers killed in the line of duty with ties to Southeast Missouri.
The Avenue of Flags is managed through a coordinated effort between VFW Post 3838 and the Cape Girardeau County Commission. The funds that support and maintain the program come strictly from generous donations.
Post 3838 manages donations through a dedicated account for the Avenue of Flags. If you wish to support the Avenue of the Flags, send donations to: VFW Post 3838 Attention: Avenue of Flags, 1049 N. Kingshighway, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701.
For questions about assisting with the Avenue of Flags Program or about veteran eligibility, contact Dave Can-trell (Chairman), by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 573-270-5525.