—submitted by Keith Morgan
Iowans are patriotic citizens and proudly fly the American Flag, but weather conditions in our state are hard on them. Because of this, many people often face the dilemma of what to do with their flags once they become unserviceable. This led a member of Roland American Legion Post 307, Mike Stille, to take action to solve this problem. Mike found an old mail box that could be used as a collection point for these flags, but he felt its old faded paint and rust wasn’t a fitting décor for a receptacle for our Nation’s symbol. To correct this problem, he reached out to Key Cooperative and asked if they could donate the time and materials needed to clean it up and paint it to reflect the importance of the new duty it would fulfill. This job was given to Harry Nickerson of the Roland Key Cooperative who went above and beyond just adding a new coat of paint. Harry sandblasted off the old paint and repainted the box with a patriotic theme; fitting of the new mission for the old mail box.
This box now stands in front of the American Legion Post 307 on Main Street in Roland to collect old, weather beaten flags that have completed their mission. From there, Post 307 will pick up the task of ensuring these flags are honorably retired. Typically each spring the Post conducts a ceremony that disposes of these flags in a dignified manner as prescribed by United States Code on behalf of those that left flags.
As a part of the flag disposal ceremony, the Post Commander highlights that the flags being retired are more than beautiful banners; they are precious symbols of what Legion members were protecting while they served in the military. It is easy to see that Mike Stille, the Roland Key Cooperative, and Harry Nickerson also consider retired flags as something more than just pieces of tattered cloth, if you just take a look at the flag depository they created. Their efforts, the support Roland has given to construction of the Veteran’s Memorial in the cemetery, and the Veterans’ programs in the schools represent one town’s desire to display patriotism and to build a better community.