Janesville32.5°

Veteran holds for patriotism

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Carla McCann
January 20, 2008
— Since serving in the Korean War, Bill Sigmund has carried on a personal crusade to encourage patriotism.

The 76-year-old Elkhorn veteran has served five years as commander of the local American Legion Post 45.


“I believe in veterans organizations,” Sigmund said.


He also has participated in 85 military funerals since 2002 as a member of the color guard and rifle squad.


Leroy “Buster” Harry, one of Sigmund’s longtime friends and another Korean War veteran, said he admires Sigmund for his convictions.


“He is dedicated to the right things,” Harry said. “He believes there is a proper way of doing things, and that’s the way it should be done.”


Sigmund is tireless in his attempt to make patriotism a common household thought, Harry said.


Sometimes, people get so involved in their daily lives, they forget this country was built on patriotism, Harry said.


But not Sigmund, he said.


One of Sigmund’s pet peeves is disrespect for the American flag.


“We should all be respectful of the flag,” Sigmund said.


He has been relentless in a quest for a law to protect the flag from desecration. But the many letters to lawmakers have fallen on deaf ears, Sigmund said.


When he saw that some soldiers now serving in Iraq were wearing their unit patches above the America Flag patch, it added fuel to his crusade. The unit patch should be beneath the flag, Sigmund said.


“Nothing flies above the American flag,” Sigmund said.


He also has questioned the protocol of a neighboring veteran’s association in its handling of the flag at funerals.


Traditionally, the flag is folded over the casket by two people and then it’s handed to the family. Afterward, the color guard plays taps.


“Taps is the last thing you hear at night before going to sleep,” Sigmund said.


The protocol is different for the neighboring veteran’s association, Sigmund said.


And that troubles him, Sigmund said.


While serving in the war, Sigmund received the combat infantry badge. It’s a medal that he is proud to wear.


“Only 6 percent of the Army gets that rifle (medal),” Sigmund said. “I earned the rifle in the first 60 to 90 days there. The infantry are the ones who keep the war moving forward.”


When Sigmund isn’t debating the need for a law to protect the flag or attending to his duties with the American Legion, he might be busy volunteering with the county’s health and human services transportation program by driving senior citizens and disabled people to medical appointments.


“He’s a very friendly and outgoing individual,” said Roger Zierfuss, coordinator of transportation for Walworth County. “He’s been a big service to us.”


BILL SIGMUND
Age: 76.
Community: Elkhorn.
Occupation: Retired maintenance man.
Family: Wife, Esther; a daughter, Jean Richards of Elkhorn; two sons, Steve of Elkhorn and Mark of Rockford, Ill.; and six grandchildren.
Favorite hobby or pastime: Fishing and hunting.
Favorite CD: Glen Campbell and Kenny Rogers.
Favorite movie: James Bond movies.
Favorite book: “Gone With The Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell.
Role model: Brett Favre.
Three words that best describe you: Fair, family man and hard worker.

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