Sailors' Stories: Marvin Hume
Daily Flag Ceremony Fallen Heroes Tribute
Sunset Beach, New Jersey


On July 2nd, 2010 CBS Evening News filmed a segment of "The American Spirit" at Sunset Beach in Cape May Point, New Jersey.  CBS national news correspondent Jim Axelrod interviewed 89-year-old Navy veteran Marvin Hume who has led flag ceremonies at the beach in honor of war veterans for the past 38 years.

On a strip of sand at the southern tip of New Jersey,there's a flagpole where 89-year-old Marvin Hume gathers a group each night. "Every day I do the service, it's just as important to me as the day before and right on back," Marvin tells CBS News national correspondent Jim Axelrod.

NJEvery veteran's casket is draped in a flag. Each night, here on Sunset Beach, one of those casket flags is raised in honor of a different service member. Marvin's flag ceremony draws a big audience. "I get hundreds," he says. "There's so many people there you can't see the ocean. God Bless America"

He's booked every night -- through this summer and next summer as well -- by families wanting to honor their heroes.

This all started when Marvin bought the property from a man who'd been raising and lowering the flag each night. He asked Marvin to continue. Marvin, a Navy vet, said sure, thinking about some buddies he lost in World War II

"I just happen to be in the right place - simple as that," Marvin says. Hume kept his promise - and then some. He's been conducting this sunset ceremony on this beach seven days a week - from Memorial Day until mid-October - for the last 38 years.

That adds up to nearly 6,000 ceremonies. On this night, June McKenna's father-in-law George McKenna, another WWII Navy vet, was being remembered. June was there. No surprise; she's there every night - even when she doesn't know the vet.

3 minute video

"It's always emotional," June says. "Sometimes the flags have bullet holes in them. By the grace of God we're all here because of their sacrifice." As for Marvin, he says it never gets routine for him.

"You go out there and there's no two alike," he says.
How long will he continue to do this?
"Til I drop, sure," Marvin says. "That's what keeps me alive."

And that's what keeps alive the memory of those who served - reminding us all that the Fourth of July is more than just a long summer's weekend.