Saturday's flag at the U.S. Department of Defense honors late Luverne veteran
For decades, Dec. 19 had special significance to the late Howard Iveland.
Ruth Brown, one of eight Iveland children, recalls her dad waking up each Dec. 19 and raising the American flag in front of their Luverne home. He would then recite the number of years since he was in a World War II German prison camp.
Daughter Mary Jo Graphenteen added, “He was captured on Dec. 19, 1943 or ‘44 but that was the day we always celebrated when he was alive.”
This Saturday, Dec. 19, an American flag will fly over the Pentagon in remembrance of Iveland. Once it has finished flying for the day, Brown will receive the flag.
It’s Brown’s recounting of her childhood experience and her story that resulted in Saturday’s flag-flying event at the home of the U.S. Department of Defense in Arlington, Virginia.
“Dad’s Story” is typed on an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper taped in Brown’s Alamosa, Colorado, store window. Next to the paper is a picture of her dad in his private first class uniform.
“Growing up, my brothers and sisters (all eight of us) know what this day meant to Dad,” Brown wrote. “It meant starvation and blood poisoning. It meant long, long marches while only eating once a day.”
The story went on to ask readers to honor a veteran not only on Memorial or Veterans Day, but every day.
“It is only because of them that we all have the freedoms that we enjoy … and take for grant every day,” she wrote.
Brown continued to recognize each Dec. 19 by flying an American flag, a ritual she continued after 1986, the year her dad died at age 66.
“Not being able to take his Army boots off for over six months affected my dad’s heart,” Brown wrote. “Our father’s internment in prison camp meant he would die an early death.”
Brown’s story on her dad and her experiences was read by Mark Trujillo, a childhood friend of her husband Larry’s, who visited the couple recently from New Mexico.
“It touched me,” Trujillo said.
He, too, grew up with a veteran father, and his childhood was full of memories of raising an American flag on Memorial or Veterans Day.
After reading Brown’s story, “I wanted to help honor her father,” Trujillo said.
Trujillo enlisted the help of his brother, who currently works in the Pentagon, and he lined up the flag-flying honor.
The Iveland family found out earlier this week of Trujillo’s gift.
“We are pretty honored,” Brown said.
The Pentagon Force Protection Agency organizes the flag-flying events. Their website is pfpa.mil.