Each Memorial Day, Ringgold streets are usually lined with hundreds of American flags and crosses honoring veterans. But this year, there's only about 80--50 at the courthouse and about 30 at City Hall.
There not as many this year because of COVID complications affecting volunteer turnout and also the construction on Highway 151. Organizer Gilbert Childers explained the difficulty COVID brought on this noble project, "We couldn't get together. We couldn't get the utilities marked. We needed to add additional sleeves in the ground. We lost a lot with the construction around (Highway) 151 and the interstate bridge," Childers said.
Longtime former Mayor Joe Barger has been an integral leader of the flag program for many years, Barger said, "It means the world to me. I was in the service, the last of Korea. I've had some kinfolk killed in World War II. The hell they went through. People don't never need to forget."
This tradition started back in the early 70's from a VFW Post and exploded over the years to what it is today. Childers is hopeful they surpass the total number of flags and crosses put out in the past this Veteran's Day. "Which put the total number above 1,800. Oh we'll get them all out unless we get shut down again and held up some way, we certainly plan to get 'em all out for Veteran's Day."
If you want to help out in removing the flags after Memorial Day or putting them up the week before Veteran's Day, Gilbert Childers is your man. Childers can be reached at (865) 300-7057.
This tradition started with only 12 or so flags in the Nathan Anderson Cemetery and has grown into what it is today.