Making a living and interactive monument to fallen soldiers of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was local Oakdale resident, Dave Chan. Chan, who serves on the race committee of Northport-based charity Corporal Christopher G. Sherer Memorial Fund, decided to adorn his lawn with hundreds of flags to represent fallen soldiers in honor of a practice of the organization that could not be upheld this year due to the pandemic.
The ceremony is usually carried out in corporal Sherer’s hometown of Northport in conjunction with a four-mile race during Memorial Day weekend.
The organization plants one flag for every service member killed in action abroad in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the number for this Memorial Day weekend was a sobering 7,104.
While Chan had about 800 flags for his lawn, the sentiment remained the same: to honor each life given in service to country.
“The race this year, like last year, was held virtually, and because of that we couldn’t do the flag-planting ceremony as in previous years,” said Chan.
The money raised from the race is donated to the American VetDogs, who provide guide dogs for veterans. The organization typically raises enough money to sponsor two to three service dogs, at a cost of approximately $8,000 each.
Last year, despite the pandemic, over $20,000 was raised from approximately 1,000 registrants for the virtual race.
Christopher George Scherer was born on June 29, 1986 and was raised in the town of East Northport, N.Y. Described as a “fun-loving and energetic boy, he played soccer, baseball, lacrosse and was also a member of Boy Scout Troop 52. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout at the age of 17. Scherer played two years of varsity lacrosse at Northport High School and graduated in June of 2004,” according to the organization’s website.
On July 21, 2007, in the province of Al Anbar, Iraq, Cpl. Sherer lost his life after being hit by a single bullet of an enemy sniper.
Lt. Col. Wayne Sinclair said, “Chris’s platoon commander called him the most likable marine in the platoon; no one griped or had a bad day if Cpl. Scherer had anything to say about it… Most notably, he had an uncanny ability to lift spirits with his voice impressions. He was a superb mimic of more actors’ voices and accents than anyone could count. One of his favorites was that from the movie Jaws… ‘Captain, I think you better get a bigger boat.’ He would often say this when things got particularly rough.”