Wally Rose, the Carroll American Legion’s historian, reflected Monday on his own memories as a Vietnam veteran as he talked about the need for updated flags to line the streets of downtown Carroll on holidays.
It’s important, said Rose, who is 72 and retired from Adams Street Repairs, of bringing the community together on Memorial Day, Labor Day and The Fourth of July with displays of patriotism, flags recognizing the service of generations, of those still here — the 212 legion members at the Maurice Dunn Post #7 — and the many who never made it home.
Rose and R.T. Schreck, 69, a U.S. Army veteran and retired Carroll banker, are spearheading a fundraising effort for $30,000 to fund 770 flags and poles that decorate Carroll on the three holidays.
“We certainly want to honor them for their past services and sacrifices and for the freedoms they’ve shown all of us,” Schreck said.
Donations may be made to: The American Legion, P.O. Box 213, Carroll, IA 51401.
Members of the Legion also will be in the lot to the south of Jimmy John’s in Carroll from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 6 to collect donations for the flags.
For his part, Rose, a 1965 Glidden-Ralston alum, was drafted into the service out of Universal Trade School in Omaha, Nebraska. He recalls taking a train from Union Station in Omaha to Fort Polk, an Army base in Louisiana. He manned the machine gun on a tank and drove it as well.
“We got into some pretty good firefights with the Viet Cong,” Rose said. “I survived without getting wounded.”
Beginning in the late 1960s, the Boy Scouts put up the flags in Carroll. Today, Troop 105 works with the Legion on the project during the holidays. The Legion will be seeking other volunteers as well, and may keep the flags up longer than the usual three-to-four-day window around the holidays.
Money raised beyond the $30,000 will go to a perpetual-care fund for maintenance of the flags.
Schreck said he’s inspired by the display of flags in another western Iowa city, Emmetsburg.
“You can’t drive through Emmetsburg with that display of flags and not be impressed,” he said.