There’s an active push in Ohio and an ongoing effort in Kentucky to mandate the flying of a new flag at each state’s respective capitol building. It’s a practice already put into place in Indiana.
“We want the Honor and Remember flag flown by everyone,” said Tom Mitchell, Ohio HONOR and REMEMBER State Chapter Director.
The non-profit organization has been lobbying to get the Honor and Remember flag adopted in 26 states. The Ohio House voted May 19, 2021, to adopt it and fly it on Memorial Day at the state capitol building. The bill now awaits a call to the Senate floor.
“We've been after this for ten years,” Mitchell said.
The flag is meant to honor those who served and sacrificed their life in the name of serving their country. It’s a sacrifice Kentucky resident and retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Samuel Deeds knows all too well, having lost several of his fellow Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.
“There's 25 guys that we lost between 2005 and 2006 that I know every single one of them personally,” Deeds said. “Two of them from Northern Kentucky. One I put in the Marine Corps. Another one, I helped get into shape so he could join the Marine Corps. I'm not a Gold Star family member. But I have lost 27 brothers to combat. I've lost numerous others since then to suicide."
In 2019 and 2020, Deeds helped lobby at the Kentucky statehouse to get the Honor and Remember flag adopted in the state. He was the guest of Kentucky Republican Representative Ed Massey.
“The first two years that we pushed this, I went to committee, testified in the committee for it, and it passed unanimously through the committee. Then we go to the House to the floor unanimous through the House. And then it gets held up in the Senate, for whatever reason,” explained Deeds.
He said Representative Massey has a plan to pre-file the bill for January 2022 and Deeds says he’ll be right there on the front line pushing for it once again.
Meanwhile, he’s watching across the river to see what they do in Ohio.
“I'm going to be pushing as hard as I can, push to get it through Kentucky and do whatever I can do from this side of the river for Ohio,” Deeds said.
The National Flag Company in Cincinnati makes the majority of the flags and company president Artie Schaller III said it’s an honor to be part of helping to honor those who died in the line of duty.
“It just hits you on a daily basis of the sacrifice that is going on, and we're glad we can be a tiny part of giving back,” he said.
The Honor and Remember flag is a very personal memorial for families who request and receive them.
The flags given to families have their loved one's name, date of death and service sewn onto them in red lettering.
“Families will actually trace their loved ones' names with their fingers, because this is a moving monument,” Mitchell said.
“Ohio has 70,000 Gold Star families,” he said. “We want our Gold Star families to know the general public has their back when recognizing that freedom isn't free.”
You can find out more information on the Honor and Remember flag by going to honorandremember.org.