Motorists in downtown Pembroke on Tuesday saw something they probably don’t see every day.
A real live Congressman at work.
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, spent about an hour helping a handful of volunteers take down the remainder of the flags, poles and crosses that make up the city’s beloved flag display.
“Everybody enjoys this and everybody appreciates it, but I don’t think they realize how much work goes into it,” said Carter, who along with an aide, Brooke Childers, toted crosses and the metal poles.
The Congressman showed up around 9 a.m. in a pickup with a cooler of water in the back to find a section of the display still standing as members of the Pembroke Fire Department and Pembroke American Legion Post 164 and other volunteers worked on taking down the remainder of the more than 180 flags and crosses displayed each patriotic holiday.
A single flag with a cross bearing the name of John Duggar, the World War I hero, was left standing for an obligatory photo opportunity with the Congressmen and other volunteers.
Pembroke’s American Legion post bears Duggar’s name, and the crosses for years were a project handled by the American Legion Auxiliary and volunteers from the Boy Scouts.
But times changed.
Ernie Mitchell, a Vietnam veteran and longtime member of AL Post 164, has for years led the job of putting up the flags and then putting them away again, and is a leader on the city’s flag committee. He credits Pembroke Fire Chief Peter Waters for saving the display.
“Chief Peter saw what was happening and stepped up, and what about 20 ladies did before you’re seeing five firemen doing the same job, and it’s a lot of hard work.”
Waters said the display has been a part of downtown for as long as he can recall, and on Tuesday he and firefighters such as Joseph Waters, Joe Vietch and Jacob Anderson started taking down the flags around 6 a.m.
The effort drew praise from Carter, a Pooler pharmacist by trade.
“It’s such a great project,” he said. “And this is no small endeavor. This has taken a lot of people a lot of time. We wanted to come up and help do our part.”
Editor’s note: Full disclosure, the writer of this story is also a member of American Legion Post