Weiser Elks Lodge celebrates Memorial Day by placing flags

Dozens of volunteers, including kids from Arrow-Heart Adventure Camps and Washington County 4-H, gathered at Hillcrest Cemetery on Friday, May 26 to put American flags on veterans’ graves. Photo by Philip A. Janquart

Dick Sullender, Weiser Ells Lodge Exalted Ruler
Philip A. Janquart
Volunteers descended on Hillcrest Cemetery on Friday to place flags on U.S. military veterans’ graves in observance of Memorial Day.
 About 400 flags were placed on gravesites along with 50 larger flags that were raised on flagpoles bordering walkways and the south drive of the cemetery.
 Among the approximately 45 volunteers were Arrow-Heart Adventure Camps and Washington County 4-H staff and members.
 Weiser Elks Lodge 1683 began organizing the event about 15 years ago when the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) moved to Payette, according to an Elks spokesman.
 Ethan Sullender, a local Idaho National Guardsman, volunteers to help with the flags every year and was on hand again this year.
 “It’s an honor to wear the uniform and honor the ones who paved the way for me,” he said during last year’s event. Sullender, who was recently promoted to the rank of sergeant, also works with 4-H at the University of Idaho extension office in Weiser and is an Elks member.
 Past Weiser Elks Exalted Rulers, Quincy Walla and Jerry Bernard, spearheaded Friday’s flag raising. Bernard is a Vietnam era combat veteran.
 “We definitely had a great turnout, but it’s always pretty well attended,” Walla said. “The counselors and parents do a pretty good job of telling the kids why we do this. We do this to honor our veterans; it’s like the old saying, ‘Some gave a lot; some gave all.’ Our job is to get everyone situated on what we need to do and point out a few of the graves that people might miss. We have a few of the cavalry and infantry from the 1800s buried here.”
 Also volunteering time was Sullender’s father, Dick Sullender, who is the interim pastor at the First Baptist Church in Weiser.
 He was named Weiser Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler in April, taking over for former Exalted Ruler Ken Salzsieder who served in that capacity for two years. Normally, the position is occupied by an individual for one year.
 Dick is a native of southern California, but served as pastor at the First Baptist Church in Castleford, Idaho, just west of Twin Falls, for 30 years before retiring.
 That didn’t last long, however. Dick received a call, asking him to come serve at the First Baptist Church in Weiser.
 “After I retired, I was thinking maybe just a year away and do something else. Well, that lasted a month and here I am, and I love it,” he said.
 Dick joined the Elks after accompanying his son Ethan and wife Stephanie who had volunteered at a past annual Memorial Day flag raising where he met Quincy and Jerry.
 “We kind of kept in contact and I ended up showing up for Tuesday night tacos and hamburgers,” he explained. “I looked into the Elks and liked what they were doing. They are so involved in the community. I said, ‘That’s what we need to be a part of.’”
 Dick was eventually asked to become the order’s chaplain before recently becoming the new exalted ruler.
 “I’m the new ER, with not a lot of experience other than being a pastor for 40-plus years, which has helped out a lot,” he said. “I want to continue doing what we can to be out in the community, to make a difference, to help the young people and the veterans, and anyone we really can to make a difference in their life.”


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18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
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