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Taking their cue from Betsy Ross but adding a lot more stars, a group of Toledo-area residents will help create the first two American flags to be raised at the new National World War II Memorial in Washington at its dedication in May.
A committee of residents put together by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) will help sew the huge flags, each of which will measure 16-feet, 3-inches by 8-feet, 6-inches.
The flags will be the second area connection to the World War II memorial, under construction on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
The idea for the memorial was born from a conversation between Miss Kaptur and the late Roger Durbin of Berkey, a World War II Army veteran who asked the congressman at a fish fry several years ago about the lack of a monument in Washington specifically dedicated to all the veterans of World War II.
Mr. Durbin s granddaughter, Melissa Durbin-Growden, will be among local residents on the flag committee.
Mr. Durbin, a Richfield township trustee and letter carrier, died in 2000, but Mrs. Growden said he would have been thrilled to find out the flags were being made in Toledo.
“The one thing he did every day was fly his flag,” Mrs. Growden said.
“The family is very happy about the decision. This memorial is not just for World War II veterans, but the World War II generation.”
Howard Pinkley, a Navy veteran of World War II and the owner of Flag Sales and Repairs in Toledo s Point Place neighborhood, also is a member of the committee. He will provide technical assistance in the making the flags.
“I m thrilled to have been selected,” said Mr. Pinkley, 76, who also served during the Korean War.
“This is just one of those things that boggles your mind. I know when it goes up, there will be some very proud people here,” he said.
Miss Kaptur said she asked the American Battle Monuments Commission to allow the memorial flags for the dedication to be made in Toledo because of the memorial s local connection and the commission agreed.
“As you can imagine, we re very excited about this,” Miss Kaptur said.
“Everyone will be volunteering their time. I ll go out and raise any funds that are needed. This is our donation to the country,” she said.
Others on Miss Kaptur s informal committee include: Clement Cybulski, of the Lucas County Veteran s Service Commission, Judy Balogh and Elaine Schwind, both well-known local embroiderers, and Olivia Holden, of Assets Toledo, a nonprofit organization that helps seamstresses and other small-business operators get started.
Miss Kaptur will hold a news conference today to announce some of the details about the creation of the flags, but admitted that some details still have to be worked out.
For example, the committee will hand-sew some of each flag, but some of it will have to be done by machine.
She said after the Memorial Day ceremony, one of the flags will be taken around the world to fly at different sites where Americans who died the war are buried.
She said the second flag will take a more domestic route, flying first at the American Legion post where Mr. Durbin was a member - the Joseph Diehn American Legion Post No. 468 in Sylvania Township - and possibly at the Ohio state capitol.
She said she wanted local veterans involved in planning the itinerary for the flags.
Both flags, she said, likely will end up at one of the museums at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.