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Ceremony honors those who serve

“Taps” floated on the breeze Monday on The Square in Pilot Point.

First responders, military veterans and civilians stood under the gazebo on The Square for a short ceremony, brought together by organizer Lynn Maher, in early observance of Flag Day.

“You’ve been, in a sense, not ignored, but not given the credit you deserve,” Maher said. “And that’s why we started this.”

Maher and her husband Ted started Flying Flags of Patriot Love as a way to honor military veterans living and dead. After Ted’s death in March 2009, Maher has decided to expand the program to include first responders.

“Because the world has changed so much since Ted’s original concept, flags need to be flown that represent another group of great Americans who give themselves every day in their determination to defend our lives,” businessman Will Douglas read.

Douglas used to work at Axtell Pharmacy and has since become a pharmacy owner twice over.

The musician who played “Taps” was Staff Sergeant Gene Dooley of the Air Force. Dooley played that tribute song, which is played military funerals and memorials, 10 years ago on Utah Beach in Normandy, France, as part of the 65th commemoration of D-Day.

Fellow Air Force veteran Geraldo Muniz came to the ceremony Monday because his military experience taught him the importance of events such as the one organized by Maher.

“We were required to do these activities, and that’s where we saw the value of remembering and of never forgetting the value that the generation below me plays actively and the one that [we] played in the past,” Muniz said.

Mark Stewart, the park superintendent of the Isle du Bois unit of the Ray Roberts Lake State Park, was one of the law enforcement officers honored. His son, William Stewart, was one of the two Boy Scouts who stood beside the banner.

“Showing respect to the people that have died” motivated William to want to participate, he said.

Reece Smith, who was accompanied by his mother Amy Smith, stood on the other side.

“I like to honor our veterans and our first responders,” Reece said. “They have important jobs and they save a lot of people.”

Pilot Point Police Chief Tim Conner and six members of the Pilot Point Fire Department were given small American flags, each with the name of a patriot attached.

“It’s an honor that somebody wants to recognize us,” PPFD Capt. Brad Bell said. “We don’t do it for recognition. It’s just s job. It’s what we do.”

He expressed his appreciation for those who are serving in the Armed Forces.

Firefighter Mark Sutton is one of the first responders who serves Pilot Point who also served in the military. He was part of the Air Force for four years.

“The heroes are the ones who didn’t make it home,” Sutton said, referring to service members. “They paved the way for us to be free, have our independence. It’s just a small way for us to give back to the community.”

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