by Terry Rogers
For the fifth year, Milford Rotary is sponsoring Flags for Heroes as a way to honor heroes in the local community. Flags are displayed in Bicentennial Park with plaques in honor or memory of veterans, active duty members of the military, first responders or others who people in the community consider heroes.
“This is an opportunity for people to recognize the heroes around us,” Gary Downes, Chairman of the committee, said. “Each flag has a plaque below it with a person’s name, either in honor or memory, as a way to remember them or honor their duty to the local community. Last year, we sold 250 flags and we hope to top that this year.”
Flags for Heroes is a national with flags flown around Memorial Day throughout the country. Memorial Day, which was originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance of those who have died in service to the country. Downes said that Flags for Heroes is a way to not only remember those that have given the ultimate sacrifice, it is also a way to recognize the sacrifices military members and first responders make in order to keep people safe.
“Our Rotary members walk through the park on a regular basis to check on the flags,” Downes said. “While we walk through, we often stop to talk to people who are at a flag they purchased or looking for one they dedicated. It gives us such a warm feeling to interact with members of the community, hear stories about the person the flag is dedicated to and how much it means to them to have this display in town. A lot of people tell us that they come to take photos and many use them on social media during patriotic holidays, like Independence Day or Flag Day.”
Downes explained that there are two levels of sponsorship. A personal memorial is $50 and the plaque can be ordered by visiting the Milford Rotary website (http://milfordrotaryclub.com), stopping in Downes’ Insurance or contacting any Rotary member. There are also corporate sponsorships available which allow businesses to purchase flags in honor or memory of employees or former employees and family members. The cost for corporate sponsorship varies depending on the number of flags the company chooses to purchase. Rotary members will also have a booth at the Annual Milford Bug & Bud Festival on Saturday, May 4 where families and businesses can join the effort.
All funds raised are returned to the community in many ways. The Rotary Club has donated to worthwhile organizations such as the Mispillion Art League, Milford Food Pantry and programs at Milford School District. In addition, the Club offers several scholarships of as much as $2,000. In 2017, four students at Milford High School – Deja Rodriguez, James Kucharzyk, Haden Shockley and Daniel Zang – received scholarships along with Kathryn Simpson from Lake Forest High School and Amanda Kucharzyk of Sussex Technical High School.
The flags will be placed in Bicentennial Park on May 22 and Downes would like to have plaques ordered by May 21. The flags will remain in the park until June 2.
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