Volunteers commemorate Memorial Day, raise 675 American flags

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alyssa Gibson
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information
An Army systems engineer brought more than 80 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and civilians from around the National Capital Region together May 24-26 to raise 675 American flags at the Pentagon in honor of Memorial Day.

Since 2002, Alvin Nieder, who has worked at the Pentagon for more than 25 years, has spearheaded the raising of over 13,000 flags by more than 1,000 volunteers in the annual observances of Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

The son of an Army World War II veteran, Nieder traveled the world as a child and learned several life lessons from his father -- most importantly, the pride of being an American. While living overseas there was a constant reminder of home -- the American flag.

“The flag is the symbol of what we all stand for,” Nieder said. “This is not just what the military’s about -- we’re just a face. With all the different flavors of Americans there are in our country, the flag brings everyone together.”

Bringing his respect and admiration for the flag into adulthood, Nieder quickly found himself involved when an Army major asked him to volunteer for the first flag-raising ceremony at the Pentagon on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. The plan was to take orders for flags, ceremoniously raise them at the Pentagon’s parade field, fold them and deliver them with an official certificate of authentication.

“We didn’t realize at the time that this effort would grow as big as it has,” Nieder said. “The next thing we knew we had a captive audience -- there were way over a thousand requests, and we needed volunteers.”

The success of the first event paired with Nieder’s patriotic nature and drove him to continue the tradition ever since.