CARROL COPELAND • TIMES RECORD Darby Junior High School students Kaheem Spann, left, and Miguel Castorena attach an American flag to a pole before raising it Thursday morning at the U.S. National Cemetery. About 60 Darby students put up 300 large U.S. flags, 50 state flags and more than 12,000 small U.S. flags on individual graves. The annual Memorial Day service will be at the cemetery Sunday at 2 p.m.

How to teach Junior High students to love and respect our American heritage? Take them to the National Cemetery to raise American flags on Memorial Day. It is there that they will learn that Americans will die for their freedom.


Waldo Fisher salutes after placing a flag at the headstone of his son, Dustin, at the U.S. National Cemetery in Fort Smith on Thursday. Fisher, a civics teacher at Darby Junior High School and president of Chapter 467 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, led a group of about 130 Darby students, who placed flags on the 10,325 headstones of deceased veterans and decorated the site for a Memorial Day observance Sunday at 2 p.m. Army Spc. Dustin Fisher was killed while serving in Iraq on May 24, 2005.

Waldo Fisher is now retired from teaching Civics at Darby but he continues in his quest to honor America’s fallen, including his own son.

A couple dozen Darby Junior High students were busy placing flags at the national cemetery in Fort Smith this morning.

These volunteers were dressing up the cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day ceremonies on Monday. Former Darby teacher and Vietnam vet, Waldo Fisher started this annual project 18 years ago when the national cemetery was having problems getting enough volunteers to place the flags.

“18 years later we are here again and we will be here as long as I’m alive, hopefully this program will go on forever,” said Waldo Fisher, retired Darby teacher.

Fisher says the students are picked by their teachers and they must display good citizenship through out the year to qualify. He says the goal is to teach them responsibility and respect.

The video is here.

William O. Darby Junior High School is named for the late Gen. William O. Darby, founder of Darby’s Rangers which evolved into the US Army Rangers. Darby was born and grew up in Fort Smith and graduated from West Point in 1933. He is well remembered and honored here.