BY MELANIE WADE –
Community service is a fundamental core of the Boy Scouts of America, and when combined with the dedication of a few veterans, their service is invaluable to the communities in which they live. Such is the case with the local American Legion Flag Program, which is run by a group of volunteer veterans, who provide flag services on national flag holidays. They are soley responsible for displaying flags outside local participating businesses on eight national flag holidays.
To date, there are 114 businesses and individuals that participate in the program for a yearly donation, which is used by the American Legion to support youth scholarships for Polk County families as well as provide support for veterans in need of temporary assistance.
There are several veterans who participate in the placing of the flags each holiday. They include: Eddie Cross, Don Fretz, Kervin Crochet, Bob Lancaster, Billy Wood, Bob and Peggy Young, Mike and Mary Meier, Ladurl Knight, and L.J. Dugan.
The total number of flags to be placed amongst participants is 141. That’s 141 red, white, and blue, ‘Ol Glory flags waving around the city of Mena on each flag holiday.
Putting out all of those flags is a large undertaking and requires volunteers to get up before daylight, placing flags at 6 a.m. and gathering them again in the evening. The veterans were proud to welcome young volunteers from Mena’s local Boy Scout Troop 92, participated on Pearl Harbor Day. They include: Jeremiah Kelley, Gabriel Kelley, Riley Cole, Isaiah Kelley, and Jonah Rogan.
The retired veterans were especially glad to have the extra help as their task has gotten a bit larger since the newly constructed sidewalks line Mena Street. In previous years, there have been holes in the sidewalks for the flags, however, concerns of cracking sidewalks loom with Mena City Council so wooden bases have been constructed to hold the flag poles. “It was really nice to have the extra help with the extra load,” said one veteran. Not only was the help welcomed, the fellowship between the two generations was inspirational to each. The participating Boy Scouts were also treated to breakfast before heading off to school after their community duties were complete.
This year is the first year in memory that the program has had a shortage of flags. American Legion Commander Robert Lancaster said, “We live in a patriotic community of Americans and it shows. We have had a wonderful flag year and are truly appreciative of such a patriotic community. Due to the overwhelming response, we had a shortage of flags on November 11th, Pearl Harbor Day, (our first flag holiday of the new donation year), but that has been corrected and we now have plenty of flags awaiting sponsors.”
If you would like to become a participating business or individual, see page 5 of this edition for details. There, you will also find details on becoming a member of the American Legion.