Stunning and Somber: 660 Flags in Egg Harbor Township Should Make You Pause
A year after they were put on display, hundreds of American flags along Tilton Road in Egg Harbor Township should still make you pause and reflect on why they are there.
It's quite a sight as you pass the entrance to the 177th Fighter Wing at Atlantic City International Airport. With fighter jets flying overhead and cars flying by, 660 American flags flutter silently in the wind.
Those flags represent the number of veterans who take their own lives each month.
Not in a year. 660 every month.
Howard Berry started Flags for Forgotten Soldiers to bring awareness to the issue. His son, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Berry was injured in a shooting at Fort Hood, TX, in 2009. Suffering from anxiety and PTSD, he took his life four years later, according to a press release.
An event on August 31, 2020, that placed those flags along Tilton Road was organized by Jennifer Baldwin, director of psychological health at the 177th Fighter Wing.
Last year, she said, "Everyone takes away their own meaning when they look at the flag. If you’re looking at the flag, or you see one at a sporting event, people might be kneeling, they might be standing, and they might take off their hat or salute. Everyone has their own experience when they look at the American flag and what it means to them. So, being able to see 660 flags representing how many veterans die every month, by their own hand, is almost like a ‘gut check.’"
September is Suicide Awareness Month. If any veterans or current service members are displaying signs of suicidal thoughts, help is available by calling the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255.