Testaments to some of Lawrence's hometown soldiers will be waving in the breeze during the Dole Institute of Politics dedication.
The American Legion has loaned more than 120 casket flags to the event, each one representing a deceased veteran whose surviving family has entrusted the flag to the Legion's keeping. The flags -- each one with a name tag hanging from the edge -- usually are kept at the American Legion's Dorsey-Liberty Post, 3408 W. Sixth St.
Legion officials say they've never loaned the flags to an outside entity. They usually emerge from the post only on Memorial Day, when the Legion displays them in the "Avenue of Flags" at Oak Hill Cemetery.
"Nobody asked for them (before), and I don't know if we would have loaned them out, anyway," post member Alan Fisher said. "We're, frankly, a little antsy about this."
"They're sacred," added Don Dalquest, a past post commander.
One of the flags on display is that of Ed Granowski, the stepfather of Dalquest's wife, deputy county clerk Jo Dalquest. Granowski -- known as "Ski" -- was a chief boatswain's mate on a destroyer called the USS Maury.
Granowski served in the Pacific Theater in World War II and in the Korean War, and, family members said, was proud of his ship until he died in 2001 in Lawrence at age 78. He also was a fan of Bob Dole and would be proud to see his flag flying at this weekend's dedication, the Dalquests said.
"This is one way of honoring some of the vets who are not going to be there," Jo Dalquest said.
Another person whose flag likely will be displayed is Robert B. Oyler, a prominent attorney who died in 1996 at age 82. Oyler became an attorney in Lawrence in 1937, and in 1942 his life took a dramatic turn.
"He had an exciting week in November in which my sister was born, he got elected county attorney and he got inducted into the Army all in the same week," said his son, Robert F. Oyler.
The elder Oyler's legal training -- and his ability, as the son of a German immigrant, to speak fluent German -- made him a prime candidate for the counter-intelligence corps, his son said.
"He served behind the lines and interrogated the German prisoners captured," his son said. "Apparently he was quite the interrogator."
Not all the 330 flags kept at the American Legion will be displayed during the dedication. As a practical matter, the post's members decided to start with the most recent additions to their inventory and count backward -- in part because it will be easier to get the newest flags out of the plastic storage tubs where they're kept.
Also, the newest flags are in better condition.