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Flagpole inspires remembrance

A flagpole located at the intersection of U.S. Route 15 and Route 630, Redd Shop Road, serves as a consistent reminder to its residents of the importance of remembering one’s history and the service of area veterans.

For more than 10 years Tom Wombough has tended to the flagpole, which is located close to his family’s business, TNT Small Engine Repair at 251 Redd Shop Road.

Farmville Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7059 member Tom McBride said he is aware of the flagpole and has observed the care that Wombough takes with it. He said Wombough mows the lawn on both sides of the road near the flagpole at about a quarter mile.

“This flag has become a landmark,” McBride said.

“Anytime that the (Prisoners of War) POW banner has to be up, he makes sure it’s up,” McBride said. “Anytime the flag has to be lowered, he always makes sure it’s lowered.”

McBride said he contacted the Farmville VFW in April about having the VFW furnish replacement flags when needed.

Wombough said he and his family installed the flagpole on Flag Day of 2006, approximately 12 years ago.

“Myself and my entire family are very patriotic, and we just thought it would be nice. I thought people would enjoy it,” Wombough, a retired police officer, said. “Everybody around here uses it as a landmark.”

He said he lowers the flag at half-staff for observances such as Peace Officers Memorial Day on May 15, Pearl Harbor Day on Dec. 7, Patriots Day on Sept. 11, and remembrances for those involved in the Vietnam War and Korean War. For Memorial Day, Wombough said the flag is at half-staff for half a day, then at full staff.

For those days and others, including Veterans Day when the flag typically isn’t lowered, Wombough said he places a banner extending 8 feet that reads, “Remember,” and a wreath with a red, white and blue ribbon by the flagpole. Some customers would come into TNT Small Engine Repair and ask why the flag was lowered. Wombough said the flagpole offered him the opportunity to spread awareness about these remembrances.

“It’s good for people to just think about,” Wombough said. “When we have that banner out, that seems to be when people really notice the flag.”

Perhaps most touching for Wombough is seeing the impact that the flag has on veterans. He cited McBride as an example, and the late Bill Lewis.

“He was a veteran, and it just made his day,” Wombough said about Lewis’ response to the flagpole. “He said every time he would ride by it, it just made his day, and he was always thanking us for it.”

“A lot of customers, they comment about how it makes them feel good,” Wombough said. “That’s why we do it.”