Tysons Corner, VA

If you’re driving through McLean and you see a yard full of American flags, remember Vincent Hiltz.

Hiltz was a train engineer from northern Kentucky who served in the First World War, a war that ended 100 years ago this Veterans Day (Nov. 11). One of those flags is planted for him.

The McLean and Tysons Rotary Clubs are collaborating for Flags for Heroes, an effort to fill McLean with American flags every Memorial Day and Veterans Day (Sunday).

Sponsorship for a flag and a commemorative certificate is $60. Paul Kohlenberger, a Rotarian and President of the Greater McLean Chamber of Commerce, said all proceeds of the fundraiser to go charity, predominately ones supporting veteran and first responder organizations locally.

Once a flag is purchased, it will be replanted every Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

In addition to veterans, flags can be purchased in honor of a first responder or even a personal hero. Those interested in purchasing a flag should contact Rotarian Vance Zavela at [email protected] or Kohlenberger at [email protected].

Robert Jansen, Past President of the Rotary Club of McLean, bought one of those flags to honor Hiltz, who was his grandmother’s brother.

Jansen said there was a story passed down in his family from the war, where Hiltz came face to face with a German soldier.

“They both stared at each other,” Jansen said. “Both were about the same age, very young in their early 20s. Vincent thought about the German’s soldier’s family and just how tragic the war was.”

Jansen didn’t say what happened next.

This is the first Veterans Day for which Flags for Heroes planted flags. Currently, there are 50 flags on display in front of the Sharon Masonic Temple (999 Balls Hill Road) and ten in front of the American Legion Post (1355 Balls Hill Road). Jansen said the organization’s goal is to gradually increase the number of flags planted to 200-300 as it expands year after year.

A brief ceremony will be held at the American Legion Post on Monday, Nov. 12, at noon.

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