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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • On a mission to honor military sacrifice

  • Janie Hayden has been successful in the first step on her journey of thanking America’s servicemen and women. Hayden has embarked on an effort to place a Prisoners of War and Missing in Action flag in every Wal-Mart across the country.
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  • Janie Hayden has been successful in the first step on her journey of thanking America’s servicemen and women. Hayden has embarked on an effort to place a Prisoners of War and Missing in Action flag in every Wal-Mart across the country.
    “I think it needs to be done. These are the ones who stand up for us, for our country, for those who can't stand up for themselves, to defend the way of life we enjoy. They are true heroes,” Hayden said.
    Last year, shortly before Memorial Day, Hayden began to develop the idea that has driven her efforts since then. Hayden was casting about for a way to honor and show respect and appreciation the America's military and veterans. She developed the idea of working with Wal-Mart towards putting a POW/MIA flag in the Wal-Marts across the country.
    “Everybody goes through a Wal-Mart sometime, I thought that would be a good place to begin to show the countries thanks,” she said.
    Hayden said there were a lot of procedures dealt with before the flag could be placed, the company had rules that had to be followed and Hayden understood that.
    “I cannot thank the people at our local Walmart enough,” Hayden said. “One of their managers was on the phone every week with the corporate office, she really put her heart into it. I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to both the company and our local store personally for their efforts and cooperation.”
    Hayden began her efforts because of very personal reasons. She said that she had so many friends and relatives who are either active service military personal or veterans. Hayden wanted to show the men and women who serve or have served our nation that they are not forgotten.
    “I have talked to a number of veterans who feel that the nation has forgotten their service and, more disturbingly, forgotten the very wars they served their country in,” Hayden said.
    “Many grade school and even high school students I have talked to don't know what that POW/MIA flag is about. They don't even know what the terms POW or MIA mean.”
    Hayden had difficulties in gathering support and even finding a source for the flag she wanted to put up. The Carrier Mills American Legion Post 364 provided the flag and it was delivered to Harrisburg Walmart over the last weekend. The staff of the Harrisburg Walmart fashioned a bracket and the flag went up over the area to the left of the food entrance Monday night.
    When asked about how she felt to see the flag displayed Hayden said that she felt good about it.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I'm happy about it, but I can't do this all by myself. I hope that other people will want to get involved. It is a first step in my efforts to honor our veterans. The veterans and active service personal are, to me, the leaders in our society. I sometimes feel that veterans are getting a raw deal from the society they risked so much to serve,” she said.
    Hayden repeatedly stated that she did not want her efforts to be the center of anything, saying that her and Wal-Mart's work had one goal, one purpose; honoring and thanking our heroes.
    “It's the military men and women, along with police, firefighters, teachers and children who are the precious assets of our society. I even feel that many of the people who died in the World Trade Center attacks are MIA. Some of them left home that morning and their remains have never been recovered, they never came home. That attack was an act of war,” she said, with emotion.
    “Because of the selfless sacrifice of our military personal and veterans, we can enjoy the lifestyle, rights and freedoms that we seem to take for granted. This is not just a Vietnam War flag, it's a flag to commemorate the efforts and sacrifice of all servicemen and servicewomen ever, everywhere.”
    Anyone wishing to assist Hayden's efforts can make cash donations through the Carrier Mills American Legion, Post 364, the address is P.O. Bx. 861, Carrier Mills Illinois, 62917. Hayden can also be contacted over Facebook at her personal site under her name, but asks that any cash donations are sent through the American Legion post in Carrier Mills.

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