Veterans honored in Steinhatchee

Volunteers in Steinhatchee putting up crosses and American flags to honor veterans for Veterans Day.
-Photo Submitted by Ron Cadle

American flags and crosses line First Avenue and Twelfth Street in Steinhatchee to honor veterans for Veterans Day. -Photo Submitted by Ron Cadle

By Tami Stevenson

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Steinhatchee is paying tribute to veterans in their own special way again this year. Volunteers from the Joe D. White American Legion Post 291 Steinhatchee were hard at work on the morning of November 2, putting up more than 400 flags and crosses along First Avenue and Twelfth Street. To show their appreciation for their fellow veterans that defended and defend our country, one veteran’s name is on each cross. A black stripe at the top of the cross signifies the veteran is deceased.


The ladies’ auxiliary originally presented the idea to them a few years ago, said Post Commander Jimmy Dietrich. So in 2018 it began. They had 100 crosses and flags for the first year, but after they built the crosses and acquired the flags, they had donations for more and it turned into 190 crosses and flags.


“We’ve got a good group of doers, I call them, and the ladies do a great job.” Dietrich continued, “It takes a crew to get the material, cut the wood, route it, clamp them, cut the pipe, paint them and get them lettered to make this thing happen. We cannot do this overnight. It’s a project.” Dietrich said everything is done by volunteers. “They are all made here and (certainly) didn’t come from China.” It is a labor of love.


He explained that the morning they put out the crosses, a crew of volunteers come together. One crew begins around 7:00 a.m. to start drilling holes in the ground alongside the road where the crosses will go into. The next crew comes around 8:00 a.m. with trailers. They built special racks to hang the crosses on during transport so they do not get marred during the process. They have teams on the ground taking the crosses from the trailers and putting them in the ground. Then another crew comes behind them with the flags.


Another crew comes and hammers the crosses into the ground making them all nice and straight and steady. Finally another group comes in and screws the flags in place.


They have around 25 volunteers and have the process down to where they are normally done within approximately two hours.
The legion puts out the crosses and flags twice per year, Veterans Day and Memorial Day. They leave them out for two weeks then pick them back up again, beginning the entire process in reverse.


They started out with a $25 donation for the cross and flag, in 2018, although it initially cost about $40 to make one then. Material costs are even more today, he said. However, they are accepting donations to offset the cost of building these new crosses and flags in an effort to keep the cost down for the veteran or their family to have one.


“It’s (materials) just gone straight through the roof,” said Dietrich.


They sent out letters to all of the people that purchased flags and crosses in the past asking for a donation to help offset upkeep and repairs to the existing crosses. He said storage is another expensive issue they are dealing with. They must be stored in a suitable, dry location.


Dietrich added they are going to be accepting applications from veterans or their families if they would like a cross and flag in the next couple of weeks. They are only going to make about 50 more this year.


“It’s fun, everybody shows patriotism,” stated Dietrich. “People drive by and you can just see they are in awe when they see these flags and crosses lined up along the road.”

Volunteers removing the crosses from storage. -Photo Submitted by Ron Cadle

 

Volunteers setting up crosses along the roadside at First Avenue in Steinhatchee.
-Photo Submitted by Ron Cadle