Avenue of Flags: A Decade as Cemetery Focal Point
Fifty silvery steel flagpoles reach into the sky.
Fifty red, white and blue flags flutter in the breeze.
In the distance, an immense American flag commands the heights.
(April 15, 2022) The Avenue of Flags has stood sentinel over Miramar National Cemetery for 10 years, since its dedication on 28 January 2012, inspiring all who enter or pass by the cemetery. At night, the lighted display can be seen for miles, even by aircraft approaching the city.
Sponsored by the Miramar National Cemetery Support Foundation, the flag display, unique among VA-operated cemeteries, is the focal point of the final resting place for more than 25,000 military veterans and their spouses.
The Avenue of Flags also stands as a tribute to the generous donors whose contributions funded the cemetery’s most prominent feature. No federal funds were expended for construction or maintenance of the Avenue of Flags.
“The Avenue of Flags was the Support Foundation’s first effort to provide enhancements to the beautiful Miramar National Cemetery,” says Sallay Kim, Support Foundation President and CEO. “Our Board members greatly appreciate the participation of the hundreds of individuals, companies, and government agencies that made the Avenue of Flags possible.”
The flagpoles and flags were purchased with $103,300 provided by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors discretionary Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund. Individuals, veterans’ organizations and civic groups also bolstered the project’s funding.
1,000 hours of volunteer labor
Volunteers from Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), the San Diego Young Marines, and Boy Scouts of America, along with a number of civilians, provided some 1,000 hours of labor over the course of two months to prepare the ground for installation of the flagpoles, and complete the grounds keeping.
Support Foundation Board Member Jeff Simonides supervised the volunteer work, while his company, Triple S Electrical, donated labor and materials for the installation of flagpole solar lighting.
The Avenue of Flags was dedicated during a ceremony led by the late Dr. Gary Parks, CEO of the Support Foundation. Veterans Administration Under Secretary Steve L. Muro headed a contingent of military and government officials.
The 3rd Marine Air Wing Band performed, along with a Marine Corps color guard. Representatives of all five military services participated. More than 400 veterans, active duty military personnel and guests attended the event.
Following a ribbon-cutting, active duty Marines from Marine Corp Air Station, Miramar, simultaneously raised the national colors on all 50 flagpoles as the Air Wing Band played George M. Cohan’s “It’s a Grand Old Flag.”
Today, the Support Foundation continues to maintain the Avenue of Flags. The flags are changed out twice a year to ensure the beauty of the display, and the flagpoles and flag-hoisting equipment are repaired or replaced as needed.
By Bill Heard