Vet reaches, then expands goal: Flags for Fallen Veterans statewide




Posted on May 24, 2012 at 11:07 PM

Updated Thursday, May 24 at 11:26 PM

CLEBURNE - The pallets were stacked high with boxes, and as each pallet left the truck, Bob Fussner's smile grew.

"We're almost there!" he said.

He unsealed a box and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the American flags inside.

"These are what we were waiting for," Fussner said.

He'd received the delivery that will make Memorial Day look the way he believes it should look: a flag for every fallen veteran.

"They deserve it," Fussner said.

Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery has never done what some national cemeteries across America have always done; place a small flag in front of each headstone on certain holidays.

"This year I said, 'That's enough,'" he explained.

It was only about a month ago when this Marine Corps veteran embarked on a journey that's taken off faster than he ever thought possible. Fussner started raising money, and within weeks he met his goal. He bought 28,000 flags.

The YRC Freight Company donated delivery. A World War II veteran donated a warehouse. Enterprise Rent a Car is donating a vehicle. Big businesses are donating manpower and money, and people across the North Texas are donating their time.

"We were hoping to get 230 volunteers to place them Sunday, but at last count we had a little while ago, we're at 679, and still counting," he said.

Energized by so many generous Americans, Fussner created a 501(c)(3) non-profit called Flags for Fallen Veterans. Someone built a Facebook page for him, and he can even take donations via Paypal, because his goal is growing.

"The other national cemetery in Texas that doesn't place flags on Memorial Day and Veterans Day is Houston, the Houston National Cemetery, so we're going after that one," Fussner said. "It's bigger, it will be more of a challenge, but we're going to try to do that in time for Veterans Day."

The flags will go up Sunday and stay through Thursday. He'll keep raising money to buy the flags for Houston and more for D/FW.

The cemetery estimates it will have about 3,000 new burials a year. Fussner wants a flag for each old grave, and each new one, too.