Remaining ‘Loyal’ to their cause

June 10th, 2015 9:41 am

First Posted: 6/2/2014

Walk through the Clarks Green Cemetery and among the American flags that will catch your eye are a collection of red flags with the words “Loyal to Our Duty” etched in yellow.

Above the phrase are a helmet, axe and ladder. The marker has the words “Clarks Summit Fire Company or the initials CS” on them. The flag is in honor of volunteer firefighters.

“People walk through the cemetery and are surprised to see the flags,” said Warren Watkins a member of the Clarks Summit Fire Company and a Clarks Green Cemetery Association member. “They do not know what the flags are for and ask me all the time.”

There are 88 flags scattered throughout the cemetery. The flags are for firefighters and members of the Ladies Auxiliary. Watkins places all the flags by himself before Memorial Day and will take them down in October.

“I know where each one is but I have also have a map,” Watkins said. “Some do not have a tombstone but they still get a flag.”

There are firefighters from Scranton, South Abington Township and Newton buried in the cemetery. They all get a flag.

Merrill Haverly was a charter member of the fire company and perhaps the oldest one to have a flag. Both of his wives were auxiliary members so three flags dot their tombstones.

The flags are purchased by the fire company through WFCO Flags owned by Mollie Woeling in Waverly.

“I like to buy from her because she is local,” Watkins said.

The markers are also purchased through the fire company. Watkins is kept busy by not only placing flags at Clarks Green, but Hickory Grove, Shady Lane and cemeteries in Gouldsboro, Nicholson, Lake Winola, Jermyn, Honesdale and Bethany.

The flags have graced the landscape for 75 years, even before Watkins starting putting them there. It’s in honor of the men and women who gave so much of their time to protect their fellow citizens.

“The flag marks the person who was member of the Clarks Summit Fire Company loyal to duty and was a member in good standing until their death,” Clarks Summit Fire Chief Jake Hoinowski said. “The flags are the same for every fire department, but the marker is different for each company. The fire company should be like a large family with brothers and sisters.”