ELKO – On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, 125 American flags will be placed along the roadside in the small town of Lamoille from sunup until sundown. Red, white and blue colors will wrap the community in honor of American veterans and the United States of America. The tradition, started by Lamoille resident Ben Reed Sr., is looked forward to by both locals and visitors.
Reed started the project primarily because of his strong love for country.
“I am a veteran,” he said. “I love my country, I really do.”
Reed served in the Navy during the Korean War. He was a boat coxswain, responsible for navigating and steering a large vessel. He would shuttle Marines to and from the shoreline.
“After a couple of years I was asked to be the coxswain of one of the commanders and take him to the beach or wherever he wanted to go,” Reed said. “I had a real nice boat with an oak deck. I had two people under me.”
Reed used to help put flags up in Mt. Shasta before he moved to Lamoille. When he came here, he wanted to bring the tradition to the small town.
“I started with 25 and then I went to 50 and now I am up at 125.”
Reed installs the flags about 12 times per year, during patriotic holidays.
“The county and the community of Lamoille appreciate what he does,” said Elko County Commissioner Rex Steninger.
“The community (Lamoille) is donating extra money for the flags,” Reed said. “I put a coffee can in the post office and one over at O’Carroll’s. They want to help. They are excited about the flags being up. When I first started it four years ago they couldn’t help enough.”
When Reed put the flags out for Nevada Day he had several young helpers: Waylon, Willie and Wyatt Wines, who live in Lamoille.
“I came over here picking up mail and I saw Ben and he asked if I wanted to help put the flags in and ride in his Razor with him,” said Willie. “I said, yeah, I will. I went to tell my mom. It was really fun. We walked quite a ways.”
“Dad is a proud U.S. Navy veteran and a patriot,” said son Ben Reed Jr. “He saw the need for the flags when he moved to Lamoille several years ago and he took action.”
“He started displaying the flags on holidays with the help of a few family members,” Reed Jr. said. “After the Elko Walmart store helped him with a veteran’s price discount to acquire the first few dozen flags, he started expanding the display.”
“Now Lamoille residents and visitors from far and wide donate to support the effort. Many people honk their horns and give a thumbs up as they pass by slowly when the flags are being deployed or recovered on holidays.”
This Veterans Day, Reed Sr. is planning a public event at 11 a.m. outdoors in front of the Lamoille Post Office. Sue Kennedy will play the bagpipes.
“We will have a speaker and the public is welcome,” Reed Sr. said.
The project receives ongoing support from the VFW Elko Chapter and from the Great Basin Elks Lodge. A number of Elks lodge members regularly assist with placement and flag maintenance.
“I think this whole Americanism effort Pops has spearheaded gives Lamoille a perfect community identity, especially during these unusual times our country is experiencing,” Reed Jr. said. “He loves the community and we love him dearly.”
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