State House honors blind veterans during ceremony

Staff Reports • Mar 2, 2018 at 7:43 PM

Legislators came together to honor Tennessee’s blind veterans, as well as pay tribute to all veterans, during an official ceremony and presentation of the braille American flag this week on the House floor.

Retired Staff Sgt. Walt Peters, a veteran who served 20 years in the U.S. Army, including three tours of duty in Vietnam, led the ceremony. Peters lost his sight 15 years ago as a result of exposure to the chemical Agent Orange while serving in southeast Asia.

Peters first got involved with the braille American flag in 2014 when he was presented with a durable paper replica of the bronze-cast braille flag. Peters, who only sees faint silhouettes, said the gift meant a lot to him and pushed him to set out on a mission to have a bronze braille flag placed in every veterans’ hospital in the country – just more than 150. The mission led him to meet Randolph Cabral, founder of the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, who created the braille flag to honor his father, Jesus Sanchez Cabral. 

Jesus Sanchez Cabral was a decorated U.S. Army Air Corps veteran who served the U.S. during World War II. Glaucoma robbed him of his sight 10 years before his death. It also hampered Cabral’s ability to post and fly the American flag on his front porch, a duty he cherished as a patriotic veteran.

The braille American flag serves as a teaching and learning aid to instruct blind students about its place in American history. It is composed of braille figures in the upper left corner that represent the stars of the 50 states. They are arranged in nine rows of alternating clusters. The long smooth horizontal lines represent the red stripes. Each red stripe is lined with the appropriate braille dots to indicate the stripe’s color. The long raised textured areas on the flag represent the white stripes. They are also lined with the appropriate braille dots to indicate the stripe’s color. 

The American braille flag is a symbol for more than 30 million blind and low-vision Americans. In 2008, the U.S. Congress authorized its placement at Arlington National Cemetery as a tribute to blind veterans. It is displayed by thousands of sighted and blind civilians, veterans, hospitals, memorial parks, elected officials, schools for the blind and other places.


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