Flags Across NH Honors Afghanistan Vets Wednesday
When Matt Mayberry started hearing from Afghanistan veterans and their families upset at the way the United States was pulling out after a 20 year war he asked himself "what can I do?"
U.S. troops started their withdrawal from the country in July and it was believed it would take some time for the Taliban to regain control. The speed at which it happened caught President Joe Biden and members of his administration off guard.
"I heard from one person who said witnessing what was going on brought them back to Vietnam and they were beginning to have issues with it. I talked with military families that had sons and daughters, husbands and wives whose stress levels were rising. They felt what they did for 20 years was wasted. Like gone," Mayberry said.
Mayberry, the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce's current Citizen of the Year who served four years in the U.S. Air Force, came up with a simple way to honor members of the U.S. military who served in Afghanistan: Flags Across New Hampshire on Wednesday from 6 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
"I wanted a place for active military, veterans, their families and those people who care about them to come together and be one. Support our troops, say thank you, let that veteran who's driving by know they're not alone and not forgotten," Mayberry said.
Fellowship, Not Politics
Participants can go to one of 21 "rally points" at town or city halls including Dover, Exeter, Greenland, Hampton, Plaistow, Raymond, Stratham and Rochester on the Seacoast.
Other rally points around the state include Belmont, Bridgewater, the State House in Concord, Deering, Derry, Keene, Londonderry, Manchester, Milford, Nashua, Salem,Tilton and Wolfeboro.
There will be no speeches or formal presentations, just the ability to be in the company of others for fellowship.
"People are going to be arriving different reasons," Mayberry said." Our point of contact in Exeter may be there to remember her son and maybe doesn't want to hear people talk. She just wants to be in the company of others and knowing that she's not alone," Mayberry said.
"A lot can be communicated by standing shoulder to shoulder with someone without saying a word than by listening to someone say what they think," Mayberry said.
There will be zero tolerance for signs with a political message sign during the event. Anyone who shows up with a political sign will be asked to leave, according to Mayberry.
"If they pull this bulls**t of 'I have my First Amendment rights also' we'll break up the entire group and send everyone home," Mayberry said. "Zero tolerance for bulls**t for that 30 minutes."
Mayberry said he won't expose someone who is mourning the loss of a child or loved one to an uncomfortable message.
"It's not about Biden. It's not about Democrats or Republicans. It's about the troops and over 4,000 people who died over 20 years. If they can't respect it then they're the jerks," Mayberry said.
Seacoast Current Managing Editor Kimberley Haas was one of the organizers of this event.