Army veteran paints 36-foot American flag to honor Memorial Day

West Virginia

BARBOURSVILLE, WV (WOWK) — This Memorial Day weekend, organizations and clubs across the country are beginning preparations to observe Memorial Day in many different ways.

However, one Barboursville man shows us how one person can create an extraordinary homage to our veterans.

On a hillside off the beaten track, a larger-than-life emblem has come to life on Tom and Linda Plumley’s property.

“It’s a garrison flag; it’s 20 by 36 [feet],” says Tom Plumley, an Army veteran who served from 1969 until 1990.

Tom Plumley works on finishing his spray-painted garrison flag. (Photo Courtesy: 13 News Reporter Natalie Wadas)

It’s been hand-painted by Tom himself.

He’s been painting this homage on his property for ten years, and says there’s a few reasons behind his diligence.

“I guess to everybody it represents something different. But, to me, it represents our country and the fallen veterans and those who sacrificed not just their life but their time,” Tom says.

With two brothers having served the country—one of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice—and his own lengthy military career, it’s a sacrifice he knows well.

“I turned 18 in January, and March I was in Vietnam. My senior trip. I have PTSD pretty bad, and it helps me cope. Gives me something to look forward to, and while I’m painting it, I think of my career; not only the good parts, but the bad too,” Tom says.

This tradition is something that Linda Plumley—Tom’s wife—wholeheartedly supports.

“I love it that he does it. He’s thought about skipping it a couple years, but we kinda encourage him to do it because the neighbors love it. People stop and have their picture made with it, and I think everybody has a soft spot for our veterans,” Linda says.

Tom hopes to continue to inspire pride for our nation’s veterans…one spray of paint at a time.

“You got a visual, and this also, that it’ll make you… I don’t know. Reflect,” Tom says.

The paint he uses to create the giant flag is environmentally friendly and costs him about $300 dollars to create.

He hopes that by painting this flag, he can encourage others to do the same, or even figure out their own special ways to honor veterans—like planting American flags in cemeteries for those who have served.

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