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‘It’s all about veterans’: New home for Old Glory in center of North Idaho cemetery

Idaho Statesman - 8/8/2022

As the American flag was raised at St. Thomas Cemetery on Sunday, Anne Wilson held her hand to her chest and watched with pride.

This was the moment the past 18 months had been building toward.

This was why the founder of the Stars and Stripes Ministry of St. Thomas Catholic Church was committed to this project.

“I am overwhelmed and just feel so blessed,” Wilson said on a sunny afternoon. “It turned out beautifully.”

With about 100 people looking on, the new veterans monument was dedicated at the cemetery on the east end of Sherman Avenue. The short, patriotic ceremony included the presentation of colors, a blessing and singing of the national anthem.

It was held on Purple Heart Day, which honors those who served in the military and received the Purple Heart for bravery and sacrifice.

Many donors helped raise about $25,000 for the monument, with a flagpole that reaches just over 22 feet tall.

A light will shine so it can fly at night from its post near the center of the cemetery.

John Thomasset, who emceed the event, said it will pay tribute to men and women of the military.

“It’s all about veterans,” he said.

The monument base has six sides, with each honoring a service: Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Air Force and Merchant Marines.

It includes this statement, also on the base: “No One Has Greater Love Than This To Lay Down One’s Life For One’s Friends.”

Nearly 500 veterans are interred at the cemetery.

Air Force Sgt. Andy Finney, a deacon, offered the invocation. He said the sacrifice of veterans will not be forgotten.

He prayed that God would “hold all these brave souls in the palm of your hand. Comfort them and their families. Send angels of protection to love and comfort all the servicemen and women still at war.

“Bring them home safely.”

Julia Mangan held the arm of her husband, veteran James Mangan, as they watched the ceremony.

“It is beautiful,” she said.

James Mangan said it was a tremendous honor for all veterans. He liked the peaceful, scenic setting of St. Thomas Cemetery.

“This is a nice place to come visit whether you’re a member of St. Thomas or not,” Mangan said. “It’s really there forever for veterans.”

Thomasset credited the vendors for the project, Tresko Monument and Washington Stone, Patriot Concrete, Pacific Coast Flag and Kaestner Electric Inc., with outstanding work.

“In almost all circumstances our vendors went above and beyond what is required of them,” he said.

Father John Mosier, who recently left St. Thomas Catholic Church to serve at St. Charles Borromeo in Salmon, wrote this:

“Many heroes lie buried in this sacred ground. Many whose stories of heroism are known only to their families and colleagues.

“This flag base and installation brings great honor to their service, and the lives of all of those who have worn our Nation’s uniform. Old Glory will adorn this garden of stone until the end of time.”

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