- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

“Big Sister” was sewn over the brim of her white baseball cap, but Katherine Barnes was actually a little sister among the dozens of Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Brownies who planted more than 1,000 American flags in Arlington residential lawns last night.

“I’m four and a half,” Katherine corrected her mother when asked her age. “My sister is a scout.”

But Katherine joined about 50 scouts and other young volunteers, running from lawn to lawn through the neighborhoods, pausing to poke the wooden poles of 12-by-18-inch Stars and Stripes into the grass.

This morning, the 90th anniversary of National Flag Day established by President Wilson, Arlington residents will arise to discover again that they are celebrants.

“I’ll get a letter if anyone doesn’t get a flag,” said Paul Donaldson, 64, who first asked members of Girl Scout Troop 1049 to help plant the flags on June 14, 1996.

“We started out with a troop that is now in college. I’ve always thought it is a wonderful thing to do in a neighborhood,” said Mr. Donaldson, a real-estate agent who conducts the flag-planting project from his home in the 5600 block of Yorktown Boulevard.

“I order 1,500 flags every year,” said Mr. Donaldson, who distributes maps to the scouts, showing streets where flags are to be displayed in the Yorktown, Crescent Hills and Williamsburg neighborhoods.

Before spreading onto surrounding lawns, the youthful planters got an additional lesson on patriotism. Marine Reserves Capt. Lewis Rhodes described leading Bravo Company of the First Marine Division into Baghdad a year ago.

Returning again was Air Force veteran Ralph Whikehart, a bombardier who lost an eye in World War II. Last night, Capt. Whikehart declined to give a speech, but willingly talked with the children. His son, Mark, was an American helicopter pilot who was killed during the Vietnam War.

After the flags were planted, the scouts and volunteers returned to Mr. Donaldson’s home for ice-cream treats and mementos of red-white-and-blue pencils, erasers, medallions and neckpieces.

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