IRENE HOSKING, of Corunna, visited her hometown of Mercer, WI in June to celebrate her 100th birthday, and she received an unexpected gift during the trip. Irene traveled to Wisconsin to see her family, so she was very surprised to be presented with a 15-star Fort McHenry flag, circa 1795, that was flown over the grave of Francis Scott Key – the author of the Star Spangled Banner – at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, MD. Irene’s sister, Mary Ann Sabec, helped arrange the tribute for her elder sibling, and the flag was presented to Irene by an officer from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.
Irene is a WWII veteran, a retired nurse and the first female commander of Corunna VFW Post 4005, where she currently serves as chaplain. Irene treasures and proudly displays every military award and certificate of commendation she has received over the years, but this most recent token of recognition means a lot, and not just because it means she is one of only 23 “true American heroes” on the Francis Scott Key Patriot Honor Roll.
Irene met Norman Covert, the editor of the veteran publication Forty et Eighter, in 2015 while waiting to take a tour of the memorials in Washington D.C. The two spoke for approximately 15 minutes in the lobby of a hotel, where Irene was waiting for her tour bus. Like most people who are lucky enough to spend 15 minutes conversing with Irene, Covert walked away impressed by her story and her warm, positive outlook on life. The two have stayed in touch since that time, and it was Covert who arranged the tribute for Irene.
In the Christmas card Irene sent Covert this past December, Irene mentioned that she would be taking a trip to Mercer, WI to visit her family for her 100th birthday. Covert then worked with MaryAnn and the Wisconsin VA to arrange the surprise flag presentation.
“This was a complete surprise,” said Irene, who can be seen holding her rare flag on the back porch of her home in Corunna. “Norman and I send each other Christmas cards every year, but I had no idea he was planning anything like this. I attended the groundbreaking for the Francis Scott Key Memorial in the early 1990s, so this is even more special because of that.”
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)