St. Petersburg Times Online: Pasco

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Patriotic display greets drivers

About 50 people, including a few firefighters, wave American flags in a show of remembrance and appreciation.

By MICHELLE JONES, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 12, 2002

About 50 people, including a few firefighters, wave American flags in a show of remembrance and appreciation.

LAND O'LAKES -- Gibby Fletcher stood in the rain Wednesday morning waving a flag along State Road 54. Barely shielded by an umbrella, she showed her patriotic support as she remembered the horrific day one year ago.

"Maybe the rain is like God showing his tears," she said.

Her husband, Bill, was getting soaked, but he didn't mind.

"It's only water. I'll dry off," he said. "I just wanted to be a part of this. I always flew the flag. Now I fly more (flags) and more often."

Members of the Lutz-Land O'Lakes Woman's Club organized the flag waving event to commemorate the Sept. 11 attacks and to show appreciation to the men and women who protect and fight for their country.

"We want to show our love of the United States and to honor the memory of those who died in the terrorist attack on our country," said club member Marilyn Wannamaker.

Fellow members Dorothy Hardy and Joan Potter joined the flag wavers.

"We are absolutely having a good time," Hardy said. "We have been here since 8:15 a.m. getting wetter and wetter."

About 50 people showed up to wave flags, including a contingency of firefighters from the Land O'Lakes Fire Department. They came in six of their vehicles, sirens screaming and lights flashing.

Volunteer firefighter Eddie Valdalez, 21, stood in the median of State Road 54 across from SouthTrust Bank, waving a large flag.

"I came because I take pride in what I do," he said. "Since I joined the fire service, the camaraderie between the paid and the volunteer (firefighters) has gotten so strong. Since 9/11 it is an unbelievable brotherhood."

The love of the United States of America brought Doris and Houser Stanton out to wave flags along the road.

"My country might be right or wrong, but it is still my country," said Mrs. Stanton.

Both she and her husband were dressed in red, white and blue.

Stanton said he his thankful that we still have a free country.

"It is only a small faction that did this to us," he said. "And they may not like it (freedom), but they still come over here to live."

Dee Smith said she woke up depressed, and decided to come out to wave her flag and to lift her spirits.

"Yes, they are lifted and this is fun," she said, as trucks and cars passed by with drivers honking horns and giving thumbs-up to the patriots.

Smith said her husband works for U.S. Airways, and she thinks the company's recent bankruptcy filing is a direct result of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"It is like you are living in a horror movie," she said.

Stefanie Schatzman of Spring Hill came with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol building in 1980.

"It is very important to have a patriotic spirit," she said as the rain soaked her.

But, as one of the folks who waved flags along Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa said, even in the rain these colors won't run.

-- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (800) 333-7505 ext. 4612 or (813) 909-4612. Her e-mail is

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.