by John Servais

Photo: Rick Wilking – Reuters

At the end of April, the group of veterans who care for the Veterans Flag in Fairhaven decided to keep that flag at half-staff. This decision was made in an effort to honor all those who had died of COVID-19, as well as the immediate caregivers and first responders who had given their lives to transport and treat COVID-19 affected individuals. At that time, a few thousand Americans had died of this virus. Today, the total stands at 150,000 +/-, a ghastly toll.

Little did the group know at the time that their fellow veterans would be dying daily in our VA medical facilities nationwide. Since the lowering of the flag to half-staff in April, and very likely before then, an average of 15 veterans a day (probably an under-count) have been dying in VA medical facilities of COVID-19 – over 1,500 total veterans dead as of the end of June. Several dozen VA caregivers have also died of COVID-19 while treating our fellow veterans. And for those, too, the flag should be kept at half-staff. [Military Times article of June 26th: Grim COVID-19 milestones for Veterans Affairs: 20,000 cases, 1,500 deaths in the last 100 days ] 

Let it be known to the residents of Bellingham that the group of vets who take care of the Veterans Flag in Fairhaven have renewed their agreement among themselves and are proud to maintain this flag. It is tragic that it must fly at half-staff to honor veteran-victims of COVID-19, men and women who might otherwise have had many years of life, love, and the ability to contribute to their families and their communities.