Good News: Flags for the Fallen

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 4:31 PM EDT
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POOLER, Ga. (WTOC) - 26,000 is much more than a number at the National Museum of the Mighty 8th Air Force this weekend. It is a visual tribute. A solemn reminder. A faithful mission.

“The number 26,000 is huge. But then, actually seeing the flags for every one of those just really hits home, knowing there are families behind them between that individuals. It just really hits the heart deep.”

The museum’s Flags for the Fallen display is intended to send that solemn message on this Memorial Day weekend, the flags for each of 26,000 the Mighty 8th airmen that gave his life fighting for the country in World War II as much a public statement as a public service.

“The phrase we have been using is let’s put the memorial back in Memorial Day. And certainly, we want people to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, but if they could spend just a little time and maybe bring their friends to walk through the garden and get the greater appreciation of what Memorial Day is. It’s the solemnest of our national holidays and that we should all take a little while to reflect on the great sacrifice so many people made for our country and our nation.”

The display that will be up for four days opened today - when the last of the Flags for the Fallen were placed by the most honored of the event’s guests, four surviving members of the Mighty 8th Air Force.

“It’s just a beautiful setting to remember all those who went before us, it’s to remember those who gave their lives and gave service fighting for this country to save us from those who meant us home.”

It is a weekend to learn more about that sacrifice at the Mighty 8th Museum.

“That is the mission, to preserve and protect the legacy of the veterans of the Mighty 8th Air Force. And to tell their stories. We like to say, they saved the world, we save their story.”

And to not just see but appreciate, the way O’Neal would whenever he would meet his father’s fellow Mighty 8th crew members, what 26,000 really means.

“I would tell them, you guys are heroes. And they would always say, we are not heroes. The heroes are the ones who never came home. Do not ever forget that.”

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