VENICE — Bay Indies residents spent Friday morning decorating a mile of the community’s roads and lakes with small American flags.
The project was in response to the fact the mobile home park had to cancel its annual Memorial Day service because of COVID-19 concerns.
About 30 volunteers came out and planted thousands of flags up and down the main roads of Bay Indies, and around the community’s three lakes.
It was the brainstorm of several people, including its manager, Ron Juneman.
“I was inspired by my brother who was in the military back in the ‘60s and he did a mile-long tribute (in Oak Lawn, Illinois,)” Juneman said. “After he did that, the community continued that tradition.”
Juneman said Bay Indies resident Vince Sinnott heads up an annual ceremony for veterans, with the event put on by residents in a park where there are flags for each of the military services.
“We’re a 55+ community. We’ve got a lot of baby boomers. They grew up in the postwar years,” Juneman said. “We just redirected the energies from what we did before to this …. We’re making lemonade out of lemons.”
Along with the flags, there will be an effort during the weekend to spruce up much of the area.
“We’ll be working for a couple days toward Monday,” Sinnott said.
He said the effort is a way of completing a beautification “and remembering our fallen heroes.”
“I get a little emotional,” Sinnott said. “I have a very deep feeling for my nation, my flag and, of course, the citizens of this country who fought for us.”
Sinnott served in the U.S. Air Force for six years during the Vietnam era and witnessed the war’s impact up close when he suffered an injury that put him among troops who’d been wounded in the war.
“I ended up in the hospital for a little while and I came to know through the medevacs some of the wounded and some of them who didn’t make it. And I got to learn from them firsthand about our nation,” he recalled.
He said he also recalls his mother taking him to parades as a child.
“Something swelled up inside of you, watching it as a little boy, and learning something about the military way of life and what it means to our country,” he said. “We remember our warriors to bring them home safely and remember their families, who are also supporting our very way of life as well.”
Sinnott paraphrases a quote: “For your tomorrow, we gave our today.” It’s a quote he likes to repeat. He said it’s important to remember those who died for the country along with the families — giving them thoughts, prayers “and any other ways we can support them.”
Bay Indies activities director Donna Wright noted many of the volunteers were veterans themselves.
“We’ve always had a Memorial Day service,” she said. “This gives them a chance to gout and show their patriotism — and socialize a little bit.”
Juneman said it means something to everyone — including himself. His parents both served in the Coast Guard. Memorabilia from their time in the military is a part of a display at Bay Indies.
Sinnott served for the Port Authority and was among the first responders on Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City. He notes there have been — and still are — people standing up for the country. That’s what Memorial Day means to him.
“It’s a remembrance of those who made the supreme sacrifice on my behalf; on our behalf,” Sinnott said.