Danny Harris is a man of tradition, and neither vandalism nor age can change that. Each year for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veterans Day, Harris hangs American flags along MacArthur Boulevard, continuing a tradition that he began in 1972.
Saturday morning, May 26, the tradition continued.
“We’re honoring the veterans of all wars,” said Harris, a Cabin John resident and World War II veteran himself, as he prepared to do his work.
This year Harris had a particular group of veterans in mind that he had learned about only recently after reading a magazine article.
“We lost a lot of women in World War I,” Harris said, referring particularly to the Red Cross nurses who carried soldiers from the trenches to makeshift hospitals located perilously near the front lines.
Harris, 83, served on a destroyer in the Pacific, and his five brothers served in the Army, Navy and Air Force during World War II and all made it out of the war alive.
“Danny’s been overseeing putting the flags up for years and years,” said Burr Gray, the president of the Cabin John Citizens Association, which raises the money to buy the flags.
Harris has been helped in his flag-raising endeavor for the last four years by his second wife, Margaret Harris.
“It’s a beautiful sight when you’re coming down the road and the flags are waiving in the wind,” said Margaret Harris.
RECENTLY, MANY of the 37 flags that Harris hangs up each year were replaced with new flags. Many of the old ones had worn out through time, while over time others have been intentionally damaged.
Margaret Harris, Danny Harris’ wife, said that at least a few of the flags are vandalized or stolen each time they are put up.
“It’s probably just some kids,” she said. “They come down and pull the flags down and take them. It’s not right, but what are you going to do?”
Replacing the flags isn’t cheap, Burr said, but it’s worth it. “You come down the road, you see the flags up, and it’s meaningful,” Gray said, adding that visitors enjoy the flags. “Sometimes you see the guys from Rolling Thunder [veterans motorcycle group] and they kind of wave. It’s neat.”
Harris will take the flags down in the upcoming week, then put them up again for the Fourth of July. He used to leave them up through June, but the vandalism caused him to change tactics.
To find out about helping Danny Harris hang flags in the future, or for information on how to donate money to buy new flags to replace those that have worn out or been vandalized, e-mail Burr Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.