You’re a Grand Old Flag
At any point in the year when you get to see the town’s streets lined with flags, the words of the song “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” written by George M. Cohan in 1906, may spring to mind. Have you ever wondered where the flags come from or who organizes such an enormous project? Perhaps you have also considered whether you can get involved.
According to Texarkana Rotary Club’s Flag Coordinator David Mims, the local Rotary Clubs founded the Flag Project to raise funds for the many things they do in the community. The annual project is now in year 22 and is just as popular today as it was back in 2000. Texarkana resident Malise O’Banion, a flag project participant, said, “We love our flags and are so happy to see them put out each time. We have five flags, one for each of our children. We chose to participate in the program to support the Rotary Club and the good work they do in our community. The flags are a reminder of the young men and women who gave their very lives so that we can live in the best country in the world.”
Five thousand flags (and growing) are displayed in and around Texarkana during seven holidays each year: Martin Luther King Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Patriots Day and Veterans Day.
The project was initially handled exclusively by Rotarians, but it outgrew them many years ago. The club now partners with a diverse range of groups and individuals in the community to help run the fifty-five routes where flags are placed. David explains you might see scouts, high school students, church groups, fraternal organizations, Rotarians, or one of many other individuals and groups assigned to work on a flag route. It has proven to be a great way for people to earn money while being part of a project that honors this great nation.
The execution of this project provides a truly fantastic opportunity for the community to come together. The Liberty-Eylau Independent School District Welding Department produces the bases that fix in the ground to hold the flags. Randy Sam’s Outreach Shelter and Liberty-Eylau Athletics provide people to load flags for route runners. David proudly explained that Rotary Club members are exclusively responsible for all flag builds. He believes these operations run as efficiently as any assembly line a factory would be proud to have.
Carol Wilder handled the organization’s bookkeeping for many years, keeping track of around 5,000 flags. This massive job is now administered by Shirley Pinnix, Sundae Braley, Kathy Graves, Alice Coleman and Dianne Martin. For many years, Joel Orr has generously provided storage of the flags in one of his buildings. Zone leaders Mike Richardson, Landon Forbes, Jennifer Lacefield and Bill Patton each manage a different section of town. David Mims’ five-year tenure as Flag Coordinator ends this July, and Ralph Waits, a zone leader with many years of experience, will take over the position. It takes a committed team to keep bringing the flags back year after year.
The breathtaking vision of American flags lining the streets of Texarkana’s neighborhoods and waving in the wind provides Cindy Bunch with “a feeling of inner peace and a warm sense of pride” that she lives in this free country. Being a part of the project for every patriotic holiday reminds her “God has blessed America,” and it is just one of the many reasons she and her family want to thank the Rotary Club for starting this program in our community.
If you’re interested in being part of the initiative, please contact one of the four Rotary Clubs administering the project: Wilbur Smith, Texarkana Oaklawn, Texarkana Sunrise and Texarkana International.
Each group has its own website, where you will find additional information. The primary flag route operates in the Texarkana area, with additional routes run by local scout teams in Redwater and Maud.
A single flag costs $55 per year, with discounts for orders of three or more. The Texarkana Rotary Clubs use all proceeds to fund numerous projects in the community. These include: the Rotary Splash Pad, local backpack programs that provide school supplies and food to students in need and scholarships to local universities and colleges.
Each club donates its proceeds to causes they feel are important to their specific club. As a program participant, Tammy Hun is thankful to those who sacrifice their lives to defend this country, and she feels having flags in her yard is an excellent way to remember them. “Without their sacrifices, I wouldn’t enjoy the freedom I value so much.”
The next time you see the flags in and around town, remember what they represent and those who have sacrificed their lives for us and the country we live in. But also recognize them as a symbol of this great community working together for the greater good, in honor of those who have gone before and those still standing for us today. David sees the Flag Project as an opportunity for us all to show our gratitude for those who have made it possible to live in a free country.
It is humbling to remember this patriotic project is run by volunteers, with its proceeds staying to help those in need in the local community. The special people of the Texarkana Rotary Clubs established this flag initiative to represent the spirit the words of the song express so well.
You’re a grand old flag, you’re a high-flying flag,
And forever in peace, may you wave.
You’re the emblem of the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
’Neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag.
But should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag!