It’s Donnie’s Day, Too

Donnie Rippetoe and fellow veterans Bruce Zeitler and Ray Capers work together to post U.S. Flags for Northampton’s inaugural Field of Honor, which Northampton Elks Lodge 997 hosted this year.

STAFF PHOTO by JERREY ROBERTS courtesy of Daily Hampshire Gazette








by John M. Hartvigsen

Is it Veteran’s Day or Veterans’ Day? Well, neither is correct since the apostrophe suggests ownership, and the paragraph in the U.S. Code creating the day shows the holiday’s name without an apostrophe. Veterans Day belongs to all Americans as the date when we all may remember and honor those who have worn the uniforms of our Armed Forces.

Nevertheless, the date does belong in a special way to groups of veterans who have served in the branches of the U.S. military and who have fought in any of our nation’s wars. They experienced the bond formed by military service and that inspires them to honor all veterans, who served in each of the branches of our armed forces.

While Veterans Day does not belong solely to any individual veteran, it is each veteran who best realizes the service and sacrifice given by their comrades in arms. The experience of military service is firsthand and immediate for these individuals.

Colonial Flag Foundation Veterans Day flag displays create a strong attraction for veterans to not only visit the formations of flags but to volunteer their time and energy to make these displays happen.

Donnie Rippetoe of Northampton in Massachusetts is one example of many drawn to honor and support veterans. A twenty-four-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Rippetoe joined the Elks, who pledge, “So long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.”  Carrying that pledge into reality attracted Donnie and members of the Northampton Elks Lodge No. 997 brought a Field of Honor® flag display to their community.

They found the Field of Honor® event to be a perfect platform to both honor and support veterans. 150 U.S. flags flying upon 7½ foot tall flagstaffs honors those who through their service and sacrifice honored the flag. Donnie Rippetoe put it succinctly in the following words:

We owe them so much. Their service and sacrifice have helped to make
this country strong and keep it strong, and freedom is never free,” Rippetoe
explained. “We’ve seen people crying, weeping and taking pictures. Kids
running through. Sometimes, folks will go down and touch the flags as they
are blowing. We have had several people describe the flags as sacred.

Rippetoe and his fellow Elks found that the formation of flags posted before Northampton Lodge 997 had an even greater impact than they expected. “You couldn’t drag me from the field,” Donnie reported. The Lodge gave the community a gift that presented “…an appropriate, respectful, and honorable tribute for those service members.”

While the display of flags would have been motivation enough to host the event, the Field of Honor® display also provided a platform to raise funds honoring veterans by providing needed services. In Northampton, the Field of Honor® event raised over $11,000 to support veteran’s programs. In 2020 Donnie plans to fund a Lodge programs to prevent veteran suicides that have become a scourge of modern warfare.

Colonial Flag Foundation is proud to join with so many veterans in paying tribute to the men and women who have honored the U.S. flags that fly in their honor.

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