SPOKANE – For the first time this Memorial Day, an American flag is flying at Fairmount Memorial Park to honor Paul McConnell who died last year at age 87. It is the very flag that covered his coffin and was delivered to his oldest daughter at his funeral last August.
McConnell’s daughters, Paula Runyan and Nancy Sauer, said he always flew his own flag proudly outside his home. Every Memorial Day, it was tradition for the family to go to the local cemeteries to visit family members’ graves, deliver flowers and admire all the symbolic American flags.
“We’d have to drive around to see all the flags,” Runyan said. “He would’ve been very proud to have his up here, too.”
McConnell graduated from Rogers High School in 1943 before becoming a photographer’s mate in the U.S. Navy. He served three years in the South Pacific during World War Two.
“He was very proud of being a veteran,” Sauer said, “so there was no question that we were going to put his flag up out here.”
Fairmount Memorial Park’s flag program started in 1971 with a single flag. Today, there are more than 3,500 of them – and each one stands for a fallen veteran.