Flags flying at Strasburg home

A total of 1,375 American flags fly in the constant breeze at the Long residence in Strasburg. "The breath that moves these flags are the dead soldiers that are laying in the ground in all our veteran's cemeteries." Rachel Mahoney/Daily

STRASBURG – There’s no Memorial Day display in Strasburg quite like that of Greg and Anna Long and their family on Red Bud Road.

Although they’ve planted their flag memorial for nine years, people would only come to see the display through word of mouth. This year, neighbors came by and suggested they share their family’s memorial on Facebook, where it received rave reviews.

“We originally started with 10 flags and we have about 1,375. Every year we add to it and do something different,” Anna Long said.

The Longs take great pride in their display: they iron each flag before it flies and take two days to plant them all, but it’s only up for five to seven days until they collapse all of it down for another year.

In past years, they’ve organized their collection in different formations. This year, the flags are in drill-straight lines.

“I cut the grass as low as it can go, and then once the grass starts to touch the flags is when we pull them up since they’re not supposed to touch the ground,” Anna Long said.

The goal for this year was to fly a total of 1,500 flags, but their last few online orders didn’t ship in enough time. The family loses around 50 flags per year in the wind, but they’re sure to dispose of them properly.

Greg Long said the holiday for them is not about barbecues. “It’s about saluting the men and women who died for our country. We do it just because we want to pay back a little bit.”

Their eight children take part in the tradition too, helping to iron the flags and unfurling them when they roll up in the wind.

Memorial Day is the only occasion this fleet of flags will fly for because it holds a very special meaning for the Long family.

“The day of 9/11, we were over in [the] District of Columbia doing some terrorism-type [firefighter] training over there when it happened and got hit,” Greg Long said.

He and Anna Long were married the following month.

“I’ve been in the fire service since ’83, and … even to this day, there is nothing that I’ve ever seen that comes close to matching the horror of the damage that was done that day,” he said, recalling his days spent at the Pentagon.

Greg Long’s family is steeped in military service, even back to World War II when a paratrooper cousin became a prisoner of war in Germany. Greg Long served in the U.S. Air Force from 1986 to 1993.

“It’s a family thing, you know, you take care of your own,” he said.

Anna Long added, “Our children will never pass a person that has a hat from Vietnam or something and not say ‘thank you.'”

The Long family visits the Fisher Houses and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and takes part in various other services and fundraisers for veterans.

Anna Long said their goal is to eventually fill the front yard with flags and inspire other families to set up their own landmark memorials.

“It’ll continue wherever we go. And we hope our kids will take it and do the same thing, too,” she said.

Contact reporter Rachel Mahoney at rmahoney@nvdaily.com or at 540-465-5137 ext. 164.