The flags flutter again from the gravestones of Jewish veterans of Tidewater because a team of patriots and veterans met at local Jewish cemeteries to honor these heroes.
“We should have the veterans of our community in our mind all year round,” says Jim Eilberg, a Navy veteran who revived the tradition of placing flags at the graves of the Jewish veterans each Memorial Day. “Years ago Sonny Werth (an Army veteran of the Korean War) started this project,” he explains. When he placed a mount and flag on Werth’s newly placed VA headstone at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Eilberg said, “He would be proud to see that we have continued his work.”
Across town at the B’nai Israel Cemetery, Rabbi Sender Haber walked through the tightly packed headstones looking for the markers of the veterans interred there. “My grandfather was a Merchant Marine during World War II ,” he says. “He would never go anywhere unless he knew where the local Jewish War Veterans Post was located. It was always important for my family to honor the military of our country.”
One marker tells of one the Navy’s first active duty female enlisted, a Yeomanettes who served in World War I. “The history here is just incredible,” says Ruth Cohen, a native of Norfolk and another volunteer.
While it is wonderful that Americans get together every Memorial Day for BBQ’s and good company, it is always important to remember the true meaning of this day: To celebrate the blessed memory of those who have gone before and have made the ultimate sacrifice. In Tidewater, their memory will never be forgotten.
by Adam Goldberg