Fred Fleck holds a picture of Camp Cody May 13 on his farm near Rice, Minnesota. Fleck’s grandfather was stationed at the camp during World War I, one of three generations of military service within the family.
PHOTO BY EVAN MICHEALSON
Fred Fleck holds a picture of Camp Cody May 13 on his farm near Rice, Minnesota. Fleck’s grandfather was stationed at the camp during World War I, one of three generations of military service within the family. PHOTO BY EVAN MICHEALSON
    RICE, Minn. – For years, a lone American flag hung above the mailbox of the Fleck farm in Rice, owned by Fred and Joan Fleck.
    Fred Fleck, who succeeded three generations of United States military service, wanted to emphasize the appreciation and respect he had for the men and women who have served their country. So, he grabbed a couple of flags and got to work.
    And now, displayed alongside County Road 22 are 19 American flags, stretching telephone pole to telephone pole for an entire mile, a wondrous homage toward veterans.
    “It is for the veterans, not just about being patriotic,” Fleck said. “It’s for the veterans, to honor the veterans and thank the veterans for their service.”
    This distinctive form of recognition began a year ago in preparation for Memorial Day. Fleck already owned several flags and decided one was not enough to convey the honor he was going for. He started with four flags, placing each on a pole, and in the following months, as he and his wife ordered more, the red, white and blue grew more prominent along the roadside.
    Fleck’s father was a Korean War veteran, his grandfather was stationed at Camp Cody in New Mexico during World War I, and his great-grandfather fought in the Civil War. Veterans hold a great deal of importance to Fleck.
    “They’re the ones that made this country what it is, otherwise it wouldn’t be what it is today,” he said. “We wouldn’t be where we are.”
    It was not easy to complete the memorial. Fleck’s wife could only order four flags with the poles attached at a time, so Fleck placed flags in bunches. When the flags reached the end of the road, Fleck decided he wanted the final flag in the sequence to hold a special significance. When Vietnam War veteran Jim Brown visited the Flecks’ Sept. 12, 2020, Fleck asked him if he would want to place the flag, to which Brown accepted.
    Now, with the process complete, the 19 flags remain raised for passersby to view, a way to understand Fleck’s maintained respect for those who have served. He has received positive feedback as a result of the deed, with some people stopping to see the intriguing pattern.
    “It’s pretty nice, seeing all the flags,” Fleck said. “People do come out and it’s nice to see all of those flags up there.”
    When Memorial Day comes again, the Flecks and their four children and other relatives will make their way to Saint Joseph’s Cemetery for a special service followed by another event at the other Morrill-based cemetery, Lone Pine, alongside Legion members. Afterward, the family returns to their 320-acre, 60-cow dairy farm for lunch. These small trips, now a tradition for the Flecks, are extremely emotional and valuable for Fred.
    “I don’t know how to put it into words,” he said.
    While it does not look like any more flags will be positioned alongside County Road 22, Fleck has more plans to honor the veterans he holds in such a high regard. For Rice area drivers looking for a way to honor fallen veterans come Memorial Day, look no further than Fleck’s tribute adjacent to his farm.
    “I was going to put a sign up saying, ‘Thank God for Our Veterans,’ but I haven’t got around to it yet,” Fleck said.