Special Flag For A Solemn Weekend

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SCRANTON — The heavy wind Thursday night in Scranton brought down grave site flags at Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton just before the Memorial Day weekend.

Cemetery crews were busy putting them back up as they did their routine cleanup before the weekend.

This cemetery also received a special gift just in time for Memorial Day.

It was a simple ceremony to start a weekend that will be full of them.

American Legion Post 121 presented the flag of a World War II veteran to Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton to fly on this Memorial Day weekend. The last time the flag was unfolded, was likely when it was draped over that vet’s casket.  His widow Ethel Harris gave it to the legion.  Now it’s hoisted high above the cemetery on a very important weekend.

“She wanted it to be remembered.  She didn’t know what to do with it so she came to us and asked if we would like it.  We, of course, accepted,” said LTC Joe Albert.

The flag represents the thousands of veterans buried at the cemetery. Ethel Harris didn’t want recognition; she didn’t even give her husband’s name. She just wanted him to be part of this solemn weekend.

“I certainly believe it sets the tone for the weekend because Memorial Day is not just tire sales and barbeques.  It’s a time of remembrance,” LTC Albert said.

There weren’t many people there for the flag raising ceremony but Andy Polansky and his kids were.

“The kids had the day off from school and had the day off because of Memorial Day.  They were learning about Memorial Day and the flag.  I saw this in the newspaper and said ‘Do you guys want to go and see what it’s all about?’ So here we are.”

“Why is it important to raise the flag?”

“Because all the veterans came and they fought for us and died for us.”

Surrounded by thousands of veteran flags, this was an easy place for that dad to teach his kids about sacrifice and the reason for Memorial Day.

“I think it’s lost on a lot of people. My father served, my grandfather served, various uncles cousins, friends. It’s something that needs to be remembered.  It’s not just a day for barbeques.”

And that flag is a reminder of that.