(Posted Oct. 12, 2020)
Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
His mother’s story about returning from vacation in Canada, seeing the American flag flying at the border, and knowing she was home…
The multitude of flags displayed everywhere after 9/11…
The words to Johnny Cash’s song, “Ragged Old Flag”…
The flag draped over the casket as part of final honors for a fellow veteran…
For Gary Heiman, these instances and more evoke pride in his country and respect for its symbol, the Stars and Stripes. As a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, the West Jefferson resident pays deference to the flag both when it is displayed and when it is time for its retirement.
This fall, Heiman headed up a project to install a collection box for old flags at American Legion Jefferson Post 201.
“It is great that people display the flag of our country, but when the flags are faded and frayed, we urge folks to bring them to us for final disposition,” he said.
Each year on Flag Day (June 14), Legion officers and local Boy Scouts hold a public ceremony in which they burn the hundreds of old flags they collect throughout the year. Previously, area residents dropped off old flags off outside the Legion Hall’s front door or gave them to Legion members.
“Now, they have a place to bring them 24/7,” Heiman said.
The new flag depository stands outside the Legion Hall, in front of the flag pole. Formerly a mail box, the receptacle is painted red, white and blue, and bears the messages, “For your retired Stars and Stripes” and “Thank you for their service.”
Helping Heiman with the project were Crabtree Body Shop, Fastsigns, Dwight Fisher, Dale Meyer and Kent Stryker.
American Legion Jefferson Post 201 is located at 9701 W. Broad St., West Jefferson.