Servicemen Remembered At Tulsa Cemetery

Saturday, May 23rd 2009, 5:13 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Thousands of American flags are flying high this Memorial Day weekend.

It's part of a Tulsa cemetery's tradition of raising flags to honor our servicemen past and present.

Memorial Day is a day to remember all of our loved ones lost, but the holiday has a special meaning for military families.

Every one of the flags tells a story. Every flag has a number.

No. 95 is for Master Sgt. Johnnie Reid, who died eight weeks ago.

"Just so proud of him," said his wife, Patty Reid. "Real proud of him."

Reid spent more than 20 years on active duty in the Army. He saw combat in World War II and Korea and was a drill sergeant during Vietnam.

His family had to sacrifice.

"Our youngest one was born the night he left for Germany," Patty Reid said. "So he didn't know him at all, for two years. So, you know, you give up a lot."

Reid leaves behind four children and 10 grandchildren. He saw the smiling faces of five great-grandchildren. Two more are on the way.

Before he died, he told his daughter he had one wish.

"He seen the avenue of flags, and he said that's where he wanted to be buried," daughter Beth Hopper said.

Floral Haven's Avenue of Flags has been a Memorial Day tradition for 37 years. This year, more than 130 new flags went up for veterans who recently died.

"It makes me very proud to be able to honor my dad the way that he should be," Hopper said.

Floral Haven also unveiled a monument to Pvt. Warren Nicholls, a Vietnam vet whose ashes were recently discovered in his footlocker, discarded away, nearly forgotten.

Twenty years after his death, he hadn't received a proper burial. His rose-laden monument and the raising of the flags drive home the cost of freedom.

"To recognize all the veterans for all they've done for us, is just a small token of what we need to do to them," Hopper said.

More than 2,700 flags are flying this weekend in honor of fallen veterans. They will remain at full-staff at Floral Haven through the holiday weekend.