Villager joins in effort to put flags at National Cemetery in Bushnell

Diana Bernard's husband Donald served in the U.S. Navy.
Diana Bernard’s husband Donald served in the U.S. Navy.

Villager Diana Bernard is joining in an effort that would see that  American flags are placed at veterans’ graves at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell.

Her husband Donald served as a torpedo man aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14).

He wore a USS Ticonderoga ballcap for the rest of his life.

“He loved it when people would come up and thank him for his service,” said his wife of 45 years.

Her husband is buried in the Bushnell cemetery. Cemetery rules prevent flags being placed at individual gravesites.

She was moved to volunteer when she read an article in the March issue of The Villages Voice, published by the Villages Homeowners Association.

In the Voice, she read about Flags for Fallen Vets, headed by Bob Fussner II.

“Beginning in 2012 there were 12 national cemeteries out of 131 that did not allow an American Flag to be placed upon each veterans gravesite for Memorial Day. On May 27, 2012 over 1,000 volunteers placed over 26,000 flags at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. On May 26, 2013 we expanded to place at the Houston National Cemetery where over 2,800 volunteers placed 68,000+ flags,” Fussner wrote in the Voice.

“On Sunday May 25, 2014 we plan on placing over 120,000 American Flags at the Florida National Cemetery. This will be the first time in the cemetery’s history that this display of respect and gratitude has been given our hero’s. Florida National currently is only one of only 10 national cemeteries in the country that do not have this service performed,” Fussner said.

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Bernard, who met her husband after he had completed his service in the U.S. Navy, is now active in the Villages Honor Flight program. She will served as a Guardian escorting a World War II veteran on an April Honor Flight. This will be her third Honor Flight.

The late Donald Bernard wearing his USS Ticonderoga ball cap.
The late Donald Bernard wearing his USS Ticonderoga ball cap.