‘Awesome, awesome, awesome’: Senior citizens in Lamar cover apartment complex with flags in tribute to vets

Residents said the show of patriotism was also energizing because the community-wide project brought the Strainhurst Courts family together again post-pandemic.
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 11:10 AM MST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2022 at 11:24 AM MST
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LAMAR, Colo. (KKTV) - Out on the southeastern plains of Colorado, a small community is making a big statement.

The residents of Strainhurst Courts in the town of Lamar had an ambitious goal: raising enough money to cover their complex in flags by Veterans Day.

“We just wanted to make a statement that we appreciate our veterans and we’re very patriotic over here,” said Prudy Osborn, Strainhurst Courts’ maintenance supervisor.

The community met and then exceeded its goal, and person after person told 11 News that was thanks to the efforts of one woman in particular, Sylvia Zemmer.

“Sylvia is amazing,” said Gayle Gobbo, who has called Strainhurts Courts home for years.

Riding her scooter apartment after apartment, Zemmer became a one-woman fundraising machine.

“I just went door to door, told them who I was and that we were taking a collection for flags to be put up here,” Zemmer said.

And not just a few flags ...

“I told them we wanted to have flags on every apartment.”

And the door-to-door campaign worked! Pretty soon, she had every resident at Strainhurst Courts backing the flag project.

Zemmer played down her role, but Osborn, Gobbo and others say this would have never happened without her.

“Sylvia took it upon herself to go from place to place, everyone’s home in the building here, and ask for donations. And the donations came in pretty quick for this project to be done,” said resident Michael Mitchell.

Together, they collected enough money to fly 50 flags at the complex.

Strainhurst Courts is primarily a home for seniors. These are children of World War II and Korean War vets, parents and grandparents of current Army Rangers, Marines. Some are veterans themselves. Residents said the sight of so much red, white and blue was tremendously moving.

“The wind was blowing perfectly, the sky was blue, just a few clouds, it just felt like God’s watching over it,” Gobbo said.

While showing love for our military was a big part of the flag project, residents say it wasn’t the whole story. They tell 11 News this community-wide project was also a way to bring joy back to the complex after a difficult couple of years grappling with COVID. After being forced to isolate and losing some friends to the pandemic, the show of flags at Strainhurst Courts was also a show of coming back together again.

“Being post-pandemic, I felt like everybody just had energy for good things happening right now, and it just had momentum. … That we are having fun in the United States again,” Gobbo said.

Zemmer suffered a bad fall in the days before the flags were put up and didn’t get to see the results of her work until the night she got home from the hospital Veterans Day weekend. She told 11 News she only got see the flags in front of her building that evening, but that even that sight was incredible to see.

“It was awesome. Awesome, awesome, awesome.”

Her neighbors said they’d make sure to take Zemmer around the complex while the flags were still displayed. And going forward, the plan is for the flags to go back up every month that has a flag holiday.

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