Veterans and their supporters are promoting an effort at the Statehouse to have the Honor and Remember flag displayed in the state of New Hampshire at least five times a year and when any soldier dies in combat.
Paul Lloyd of the VFW 1631 in Concord, along with former gubernatorial candidate Karen Testerman and Susan Peterson, who are heading up the Honor and Remember NH Chapter, are pushing for officials to re-consider a bill that was rejected last year to allow the flag to be flown in the state.
The plan is to have the Honor and Remember flag flown at the Statehouse five days a year: On NH Gold Star Mother’s Day (the Sunday after Easter), Memorial Day, Independence Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day, if approved. The flag would also be flown any time a service member dies. A flag would also fly at the State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen every day.
Currently, there is a Gold Star Mothers banner that is displayed but a flag, Lloyd said, would be added respect to the process of honoring those soldiers who had lost their lives in combat.
“We don’t have anything to honor Gold Star families,” he said. “The Honor and Remember flag would be the national symbol to remember the losses in war time.”
George Lutz, the person promoting the flags, lost his son in Iraq in 2007, and has been trying to get the flag displayed in every state. So far, 14 states have adopted the flag, with eight endorsing the idea. Most of the other states have efforts underway in their Legislatures.
It’s not law here in New Hampshire because the previous bill was killed in committee, according to Lloyd, based on “misleading information” about the Honor and Remember flag. He said there was discussion that the flag would replace the American flag, something that isn’t true.
“Nobody is going to carry it into battle or anything,” he said.
There is also an issue of Lutz not wanting to give up the trademark for the flag, which has caused some problems with getting Congressional approval. Lloyd said Lutz wants to ensure that the flags are made in the USA and not overseas, so he is not relinquishing the trademark and only approves certain vendors to make the flags. Lloyd noted that POW/MIA flags are made anywhere and everywhere, even Vietnam, the place where many soldier's remains remain.
The flags can also be personalized with the name of the fallen solider and the date he or she was born and killed, he said.
Lloyd said getting the Honor and Remember flag approved in the state and flown on the days it would be presented would also be a “conversation starter” about why officials fly the flag at half-staff, why there is a Pledge of Allegiance, and other remembrances.
“They fly it at half-staff for everything," he said. "It ticked so many people off that the president ordered the flag at half-staff for Whitney Houston. That was a disgrace. That dishonored everyone who had protected the flag and honored the flag (in my) personal opinion.”
Lloyd said it would be an opportunity to change the focus on why the flag is flown at half-staff in the future, he said.
“As a society, we do not teach flag etiquette,” he said. “We’ve lost that. The Pledge of Allegiance is optional. The younger generation doesn’t really have the respect for the flag, generalizing.”
According to Peterson and Lloyd, state Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, and state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, will be re-sponsoring the bill this year.
“We’re trying to get all the support we can to get it passed,” he said.
So far in New Hampshire, eight personalized flags have been presented to families with three more to be presented in the coming months, according to Peterson.
“To remember the fallen is to honor them,” Lloyd said. “That’s what the New Hampshire chapter believes.”