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American Legion in Walker collects hundreds of worn flags for retirement

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Posted at 8:21 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 22:42:01-05

WALKER, Mich. — There are a couple new drop boxes around Walker for people to retire and dispose of their American flags.

They’re already very popular in under four months.

It’s a red, white and blue project involving the American Legion, an Eagle Scout, and the City.

FLAG RETIREMENT BOXES

American Legion Post 1111 recently put out a flag collection box, and it’s already collected hundreds of unserviceable flags.

It’s a fairly small box with a very big purpose: collect worn American flags so they can officially be retired.

“And so, this is giving us an opportunity to also work with the community to teach them about flag etiquette and retiring a flag properly,” said Jena Wilmers, commander of American Legion Post 1111.

The local legion became chartered in February of 2020. It put up flag collection boxes just nine months later on Veterans Day.

“We don’t just take a flag and throw it in the garbage; that’s disrespectful,” said Wilmers. “So, with this flag box it’s now giving people a place to drop them off – our post picks them up – and then we retire them through a proper retirement ceremony.”

On Thursday, FOX 17 was there as Jena emptied the bin outside Sobie Meats, a veteran-friendly company that also sells American flags.

So far, they’ve picked up hundreds, emptying it two to three times a month.

“The Walker community filled the flag box in less than 24 hours after placement,” she said.

A second box sits inside Walker City Hall. It may stay there or end up in a new location.

SUPPORTING SERVICE

“Our public safety, our military; this is a community for hundreds of years now; they support those who serve,” said Mayor Gary Carey Jr.

He talked with us about the next journey for the flags, coming here to the city’s “Central Campus” where they will be retired in a new fire pit.

“We were right by Remembrance Road named in the early 1900s after our World War I veterans and those that were lost overseas,” said Mayor Carey.

The pit is weather resistant and locked so it can only be used for flags. We’re told it could likely last more than 100 years and not even rust.

EAGLE SCOUT

The young man responsible for this site is Blake Huizenga. He’s the son of former Walker mayor and current state representative Mark Huizenga.

It was all part of an Eagle Scout project he started in 2019. He raised the money himself to finish it and even got awards for putting it all together.

Blake is now at boot camp to become a Marine.

PROUD MOMENT

It was a proud moment all around for Commander Wilmers, Post 1111, and the entire city.

“We brought together three to four different entities and companies within the Walker community and came together to do this as a community, so building the community is important to us as well,” she said.

The City of Walker tells me it will be dedicating the fire pit sometime later this year when Blake returns from boot camp.

That’s when the American Legion will also be holding its flag retirement ceremony for all the flags it’s collected since November.

COMMUNITY HELP

The boxes and part of the fire pit were designed, built and donated by DeWys Metal Solutions in Marne.

HD Five also wrapped the boxes.

DROP-OFF SITES

If you need to drop off your old flags, you can find your local American Legion by clicking here.

Department of Defense: How to properly dispose of your old American flags

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