X marks the spot: Bryan Tillung and Jan Ramelli stand at a small park at the north end of the Chetco River bridge where they would like to place an oversized U.S. flag on a 50- to 80-foot pole in honor of past and current veterans.The Pilot / Lorna Rodriguez
Brookings resident and Gulf War vet Bryan Tillung wants all past and present service members and their families to be remembered.
“I can still remember the feeling of loneliness, the feeling that everyone had forgotten me,” Tillung said.“I thought well, what do we do for our kids who have served or who are retired?”
After Seaview Senior Living Community Relations Director Jan Ramelli approached Tillung with the idea of flying an oversized American flag near the Chetco River Bridge, he knew: a “freedom flag,” a large American flag that will serve as a symbol of freedom.
The 8x12-foot flag would be located on the north end (Brookings) of the Chetco River bridge on the ocean side and flown from a 50 to 80 foot pole. The project is still in its planning stages, but flagpoles alone are in the neighborhood of $5 to 7,000, he said. The project would be funded by in-kind donations.
So far, Tillung has contacted the Oregon Department of Transportation, the city of Brookings, and has the support of Mayor Ron Hedenskog.
Tillung also has asked for feedback on Facebook “to see if it’s something people would be interested in,” he said.
To date, he has only received positive responses.
“I think I’ve got enough (feedback) to know that this is something the community needs,” Tillung said.
Soon, he would like to form a committee to work on the project. Those interested in volunteering should call Tillung at 541-254-1973.
Once the committee is formed, it will appoint a chair; Tillung does not want to chair the committee.
“This whole project, along with Jan Ramelli’s idea is something I want to do for our community,” he said. “Our goal is to have it completed by November of next year.”
Before spearheading this project, Tillung volunteered on the welcome sign committee, the group that installed the “Welcome to Brookings” sign at the turnout past Deer Park Drive. For that effort, he had to contact ODOT, and work with the city of Brookings. He credits that work with giving him the experience he needs to complete this undertaking.
“We’re just in our beginning stage right now,” Tillung said. “We’re gathering a spot to pay respect to service members and their families.”