Shenandoah County veteran stands over I-81 to share meaning of Memorial Day
WOODSTOCK, Va. (WHSV) - If you traveled north on Interstate-81 this Memorial Day weekend, chances are you noticed a message one Shenandoah County veteran has been trying to send to travelers.
On the bridge that crosses I-81 in Woodstock, Art LaFlam was seen waving an American flag with signs asking drivers to think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
“Patriotism is not dead it just needs to be nudged a little bit,” LaFlam said.
LaFlam is a U.S. Army veteran who served three tours in Vietnam and says Memorial Day weekend starts a yearly tradition where he stands out on the bridge, reminding folks about veterans and those who have passed.
The veteran says he can’t remember when the tradition started, but in 2020 alone he stood over the bridge 22 different times.
“I’ve had parents come by with kids, that tell me when they were kids they went by in their parent’s car and seen me out here,” LaFlam said.
Through the noise of passing traffic, you can hear a constant melody of honking as drivers share their support for LaFlam’s final mission.
“There are 59,000 names on the wall and I made a pledge to every one of those names to fly this flag to the best of my ability for the rest of my life,” LaFlam said.
From sunrise to sunset, LaFlam reflects on his brothers who were lost overseas.
“I try to be out here by sunrise because no one else is here and that’s the chance for me to think of them and honor them on a one-on-one,” LaFlam said.
He says on one of the busiest travel weekends, he tries to spark the conversation of what Memorial Day really means for Americans and other veterans who lost someone.
“For the first few years I was out here and they would just kinda look at you and now they stop and salute and that means more to me than you would ever know,” he said.
It’s a service LaFlam says will never end until he is long gone, but one that he’ll continue to provide for our heroes who never made it back home.
“Many, many times in Vietnam I mean there is no way I should even be standing here talking to you and yet the good Lord has a plan for something. So it’s good all the way around,” LaFlam said.
Copyright 2021 WHSV. All rights reserved.