A squad of uniformed riflemen fires three volleys. A widow or other family member receives a folded American flag. “Taps” is played. A family mourns.
These military honors are offered for an American veteran an average of one thousand eight hundred times a day.
On November 16, 2017 it was Wilmington Veterans Post 49 Honor Guard’s Rifle Squad that fired the three volleys, two of the members carefully folded the American flag that draped the coffin, a member reverently presented the triangular shaped, folded flag to the widow, “Taps” was played and the family of U.S. Army Paratrooper (1954-56) Franklin Gerome Wall mourned.
His widow, Elizabeth, clung to the folded flag as her children — Tom, Debra, Connie and Dianna — gathered around to console and comfort each other.
As is common in many families, Mrs. Wall gave the precious folded symbol of service and sacrifice to her eldest, Tom, and his wife, Donna, to proudly display and for safe keeping. No one expected the the unexpected tragedy that would devastate Tom and Donna and lead to a friend putting forth the effort to help reclaim a bittersweet yet proud moment for the family.
On April 24, 2020 the Wilmington home of Tom and Donna Wall was destroyed by fire. One of the few items Tom was able to save from the flames was his father’s burial flag. Though smoke damaged, the flag was preserved.
As the couple tried to put their lives back together, Tom wanted to, once again, display the flag he had saved from the fire. After many attempts to find someone willing to take on the task of eliminating the smoke smell and cleaning the uniquely sized and very large American flag, Long’s Dry Cleaning in Beavercreek accepted the challenge.
When the very special memory was picked up, it was neatly folded and draped over a sturdy hanger — not at all suitable for display.
That is when, through social media, a high school friend of Donna’s, Dusty Camp of Jamestown, read of the predicament and reached out to his old friend and learned that they mainly just wanted it properly refolded so it could be displayed again.
Mr. Camp, a member of American Legion Post 49, called on the Post Honor Guard to see if they could help out. Arrangements were made for the couple to bring the flag to the next monthly meeting of the group.
Tom and Donna, along with his mother Elizabeth and sister Connie, arrived at the American Legion at the appointed time on August 26where they met up with Dusty Camp and his wife Carla. Honor Guard Commander Mike Sutton invited everyone to join him for the ceremonial re-enactment.
The family and friends were formally seated and then members, Wayne Davidson and Charles Lakatos, folded Franklin Wall’s burial flag in the same solemn manner as if they were at the graveside.
Once folded and inspected, Mr. Davidson presented Tom with the same triangular shaped, folded flag that his mother had received almost three years previously.
This time Mom watched, yet with no less emotion.