By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

Family honors father, husband with Hawk's Avenue of Flags

 

March 11, 2016

THERMOPOLIS - The Hawkins family in Thermopolis is honoring their father and husband, Donald "Hawk" Hawkins with an Avenue of Flags at Monument Hill Cemetery.

Julie Hawkins Lehman said after her father passed away Jan. 9 of this year, the family received funds in his memory. She said she, her brother Ross and her mother Betty brainstormed ideas on the best use of the funds as a way to honor her father's memory. Their idea - an Avenue of Flags, Hawk's Avenue of Flags. Hawk served in the Air Force from 1952-1956.

She said, "If you ever driven through an Avenue of Flags, it's breathtaking." She said her father saw one at a cemetery where he grew up in Nebraska. There was an article about that Avenue of Flags and he held on to it for years.

She said the flags are 5x9/12 feet, the size normally draped over the caskets of veterans.

There are three communities in the state with Avenue of Flags - Wheatland, Casper and a traveling one in Cody, Lehman said.

The flags will line the cemetery roads at Monument Hill and Lehman said they likely will start near the veterans flag in the cemetery.

They have set up a foundation, Hawk's Avenue of Flags Foundation, to handle the donations they have already received and are accepting monetary donations or donations of flags.

She each pole for the flags cost about $100. They come in three pieces. The flags will be rolled up on to the pole and stored in a tube. Lehman said they checked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to make sure this was an appropriate way to store the flags.

Currently, plans are to display the flags only during Memorial Day. She said they may consider special occasions as well, but added the flags won't be displayed if it is real windy or in inclement weather.

"We should have four to six flags ready by this Memorial Day," Lehman said. She added that Wheatland started with five flags and now has about 200. "We're hoping this takes off like that."

If the project grows as large as Wheatland, Lehman noted, they have to put part of the flags up the day before Memorial Day and the foundation would as well, which would require purchasing solar lighting so the flags would be properly illuminated at night.

She said people donating flags in memory of a veteran will have a placard placed on the pole for that flag that denotes the veteran's name, branch of service and rank.

"This will be an ongoing project. Eventually we'd like to have a display discussing the Avenue of Flags. We'll be developing this as we go."

She said a foundation committee has been formed and met with the Monument Hill Cemetery Board last week to obtain permission for the project.

The committee will meet next week to begin more detailed plans for the project, Lehman said.

She said Farmers Insurance and the VFW Post 2281 and Auxiliary are assisting with the project.

"We've had wonderful response. Everyone thinks this is a great idea," Lehman said.

 
 

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