by Terry Rogers
For the past few years, the Milford Rotary has placed hundreds of flags in Bicentennial Park in recognition of those who served in the military as well as those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedoms. The organization solicited donations for plaques with names of heroes to be placed at the base of each flag.
“This year, with the pandemic, we didn’t know if we could even do the event,” Gary Downes, chairman of the Flags for Heroes program, said. “Then, we heard other clubs were doing it and we decided to go ahead and place the flags but not solicit donations for the plaques. When we reached out to the City a few weeks ago, they were not comfortable with the flags being placed in the park. We reached out to Genesis and they agreed to let us place the flags there.”
Flags for Heroes is a national program designed to remind people to stop and express thanks to those who have served, continue to serve and those who died while serving in the military. Anyone who sponsors a flag can choose the hero they wish to honor. There have been flags placed for active duty family members, ancestors who may have served in long-ago wars, first responders and even war dogs.
“We normally have several hundred flags in the park,” Downes said. “We aren’t sure how many we will be able to place at Genesis, but we feel it is important to have the display over the Memorial Day weekend. People look forward to seeing the flags each year. We won’t be putting up plaques this year, but we are accepting donations. The Flags for Heroes project helped fund our scholarship awards each year. Like many non-profits, we are struggling right now as we have not been able to meet or hold a type of fund-raising events.”
Downes is glad that they were able to work out an arrangement with Genesis. Although Bicentennial Park is the ideal location as it is in the center of town where people drive by or walk through regularly, he is hoping the residents of Genesis, who are locked down in their facility until the pandemic passes, will enjoy seeing the flag display from inside.
“We have many heroes who live and work at Genesis,” Downes said. “I am sure they will appreciate seeing this and being reminded that there are those out there who remember their sacrifices. We are hoping we can do this again for Veteran’s Day and solicit donations like we used to for Memorial Day, but it will totally depend on how far along we are in the reopening stage.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation can mail a check made payable to Milford Rotary Club Education Foundation, PO Box 10, Milford DE 19963. They can also drop donations off at Downes Insurance on North Washington Street. Anyone with questions can call Downes at 302-745-7697. More information can be found on the Milford Rotary website and Facebook page as well.