POOLER, Ga. (WSAV) — Every day, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force honors the airmen killed in action during WWII.
This Memorial Day, volunteers placed 26,000 flags in the museum’s Memorial Garden, each with 48 stars, because that is the flag they died under during the war.
“When we had the idea to put 26,000 flags in, there’s a lot of planning, logistics and preparation that goes into putting this up, so thanks to everyone who helped us do it,” chairman of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force John O’Neil said.
More than 250 volunteers showed up to help place the flags last week, each representing a soldier who served in the Eighth Air Force, the largest air armada in history.
“The flag was a physical reminder of one American’s life,” O’Neil told WSAV NOW. “When you’re planting it, and you see the flags going in, the sheer numbers begin to overwhelm you.”
This is the first time the museum has placed flags in memory of the fallen, but O’Neil says they plan to make it an annual event.
“Planting the flags was a very emotional experience for me, having known several Eighth Air Force veterans, my father being one of them,” he said. “And hearing their stories of lost comrades that were killed in action in Europe.”
The museum also held a ceremony to honor local veterans and share stories of friends and family members who lost their lives serving the country.
“We all need to take a little time over the weekend to reflect and remember the sacrifices that were made by these young Americans. Those of us who enjoy the freedoms we have today owe a debt of gratitude and a constant reminder to say thank you for what we have as Americans,” O’Neil said.
“And to the veterans who were in there today, I want to say thank you again.”
The museum also placed a flag in the Memorial Garden for online donations in memory of a loved one.
For those who weren’t able to visit Memorial Garden Monday, there’s still a chance to see the display before they remove the flags Tuesday evening.
For more information about museum visiting hours, visit the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force website.