Jernigan’s flag comes home

Published 5:23 pm Thursday, July 2, 2009

He was a die-hard Auburn fan, camellia lover and raconteur. Most of all, he was a proud U.S. veteran. The late Ed Jernigan’s tremendous love for the country he served lives on right outside his Country Club Drive home in the form of the red, white and blue.

“Very few people are aware that a flag was flown above our nation’s capitol on the July 18, 2008, in honor of Ed. It was the day of his funeral,” Mrs. Jernigan said.

“While we were at the graveside services, Jill Stallworth whispered in my ear that arrangements had been made for an American flag in memory of Ed to be flying at that very moment. She said it would be mailed to me.”

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Jernigan said she was very touched by the special honor, achieved through the combined efforts of Stallworth, her daughter, Brittney Ingalls and Senator Richard Shelby.

“Of course, Ed was such a patriot. He was a POW during WW II and he always considered himself to be lucky because he got to come back home,” Jernigan said. “He took such care to display our American Flag.”

However, the home has been without the Stars and Stripes on display until recently.

“We had inclement weather shortly after his death and I had a lot of difficulty taking the old flag down.”

Even though she received her late husband’s memorial flag a short time after his funeral, Jernigan found herself unable to face the task of putting it up.

And so the flag was tucked away.

This June 24, Jernigan went to the cemetery to mark her husband’s birthday – a highly emotional day for his widow.

“I put a small bouquet of roses from his own rose garden, tied with (his favorite team) Auburn ribbon, on his grave. I didn’t use a vase; I just placed them at his foot marker. Later I read the book I had put together of his POW experiences. And it struck me,” Jernigan recalled.

“I realized I really should be flying that beautiful symbol of our freedom.”

Jernigan pushed past her grief and brought out the memorial flag.

After finally managing to pull the staff out of the ground, Jernigan struggled to get it attached.

“A very gentle young mail carrier came along and offered to help me when he saw my difficulties – and we got it flying,” she said.

“Ed would be so glad to know that an American flag is flying again at our house for July 4. He loved this country and was so proud that it is one that honors its military.”