Father, son honor war dead

Published 10:23 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

FRANKLIN—As the midday sun beamed on Franklin’s historic Poplar Spring Cemetery, the father-and-son team of Eddie and Scott Phillips were out doing what they do every year for Memorial Day: marking the graves of veterans with flags.

“It’ll take a good two days,” Scott Phillips said, to put out more than 500 American and Confederate flags. The number of flags they put out grows every year as more veterans are buried in the cemetery.

“When I started, I did it with the Boy Scouts,” Scott Phillips said Wednesday as he maneuvered a map of the cemetery and pointed his father to a grave that needed a flag.

His Scout troop started marking veterans’ graves at the cemetery with flags in the early 1980s. Eddie Phillips helped the Scouts set out the flags as part of his duties as the youth liaison for the local American Legion post.

When the Boy Scout troop disbanded, the Memorial Day tradition didn’t end.

“We just couldn’t find anybody else that was willing to take it on, so we kind of just did it,” Scott Phillips said.

Setting the flags in the cemetery was like a history lesson when he was younger. Now he can remember where to plot a number of the flags without even looking at the maps. Eddie Phillips, who turns 75 this year, was less confident in his memory.

“I can’t remember anymore,” he said with a laugh. “I’m too old.”

The flags will stay in place at the cemetery until next week before being moved.