American Legion Colorado Springs Post 5 unveils a WWI era flag with roots back to the early 1920’s in the city. Here, Keith LaMee, past post commander, was a driving force of the mission to preserve the flag. (Photo by Lucas Carter)

By Steven B. Brooks, Nov 11, 2018

For years, a U.S. flag gifted to American Legion Post 5 in Colorado Springs had resided in storage. But when Past Post 5 Commander Keith LaMee realized the flag was 100 years old and had been flown by Colorado National Guardsmen during World War I – some who came home to found Post 5 in 1919 – he knew the flag had to become of a part of the post’s legacy.

So LaMee helped spearhead a campaign that got the 100-year-old flag mounted and framed for display. And on Veterans Day weekend, that flag became a permanent fixture on the wall of the centennial post’s meeting room.

“We pulled out this flag that’s been downstairs since I’ve been involved in the post,” said LaMee, a 20-year Legionnaire and past post adjutant and district commander. “It was given to us by the city council. We decided we need to frame it, so we could have it ready for when we have our anniversary.

“But when we unrolled it, there was a thing … saying it was used during (World War I). I am 98.7 percent sure it belonged to C Battery, 148th Field Artillery, which was a unit that was established here prior to World War I.”

The Colorado National Guard’s Battery C, 148th Field Artillery Regiment was serving on the front in France when the armistice ending World War I was signed. Its flag was presented to the post by the city of Colorado Springs in 1919, who in turn presented it to Post 5 on the post’s one-year anniversary in August of 1920. The post used the flag at funerals for World War I veterans from Colorado Springs.

“It’s basically our Star-Spangled Banner,” LaMee said of the flag. “It needs to be protected and preserved and give us a reminder of where the Legion came from.”

The 5×9-foot flag was shared with the public during a Saturday afternoon ceremony at Post 5. The timing of the unveiling, 4 p.m. Mountain Time on Nov. 10, wasn’t an accident. At the same time as the ceremony was happening, the clock was turning midnight in France – bringing in the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Post 5 Legion Family members, district leadership, Department of Colorado Junior Vice Commander Chip Kossow and community members were in attendance, as was El Paso County Commission Stan VanderWerf. A retired U.S. Air Force colonel, VanderWerf read a proclamation from the Colorado Springs City Council naming Nov. 10, 2018, “Remembering Battery C of WWI Day.” VanderWerf also took time to praise Post 5 for honoring “those that we have lost. You honor those that are still missing by being in this room today and being a part of this veterans’ weekend celebrations. You are serving simply be being here.”

LaMee said it was important to share the flag because “the flag of our nation is very important not only to the veterans and the military, but to the families of them. I thought it was great that we had that centennial flag, and it should be preserved because of that. But when we saw (the flag had been used in World War I), we thought ‘this is too unbelievable.’ When we took it to the framer …? I probably carried it more cautiously than I have any of my grandkids.”