Raising flags for American spirit

The Rotary Club initiated “The American Spirit” project on the Fourth of July, with 65 flags flying at area residents’ homes. (submitted photos)

Jill Yanish
Review staff

The Rotary Club of North St. Paul, Maplewood and Oakdale is launching a project to decorate the communities in red, white and blue on patriotic holidays.

The club’s project, “The American Spirit,” is a service that installs American flags in residents’ yards on six holidays throughout the year.

“If you look around, you don’t see that many flags,” Rotary Club member Joseph Miller said. “(This project) helps grow this concept of patriotism.”

For $48, the Rotary Club will install in participants’ yards an in-ground flagpole sleeve designed to hold a 10-foot pole and a 3-by-5-foot American flag.

At 8 a.m. on the designated holidays, Rotarians will erect a temporary pole and flag, and remove them by the evening. The club is responsible for the flags and poles, and stores them the rest of the year.

The six holidays are Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriot Day (Sept. 11) and Veteran’s Day. The club initiated the project on the Fourth of July, with 65 flags flying at area residents’ homes.

The Rotary Club plans to donate the project’s profits to community organizations, such as Meals on Wheels, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and food shelves, and to partner organizations.

“We raise money so we can give it away,” Rotary Club member Fran Ivory said.

The project’s origin

Ivory introduced the idea of the project to the Rotary Club of North St. Paul, Maplewood and Oakdale after seeing it in action in Davenport, Iowa, where he previously lived. He moved to Oakdale in 1997 and has since made it his mission to adorn the communities in stars and stripes.

Both Ivory and Miller say that Americans’ spirit of patriotism has slipped in recent years.

They point to a 2013 Gallup Poll that revealed 71 percent of Americans think the signers of the Declaration of Independence would be disappointed with the way the United States has turned out, a displeasure that has increased from the 2001 level of 42 percent.

However, the same poll reports that 85 percent of respondents claimed they are very or extremely proud to be Americans.

“The American Spirit” project intends to revive patriotism in the local communities.

Recruiting partners

The local project is in the trial phase, Miller said. Once it’s more established, the Rotarians plan to invite community organizations to join them in helping install the temporary flagpoles. The Rotary Club will give its partner organizations approximately 50 percent of the project’s proceeds.

North St. Paul City Council member Terry Furlong said the city supports the Rotary Club’s project.

“It will be pretty patriotic to see people on board with it,” Furlong said. “It’s going to be eye-opening -- a whole neighborhood could be filled with flags.”

The Rotary Club hopes to have 100 residents signed up for its flag project by Labor Day.

“Let’s get out and show we have pride in our country,” Miller said.

For those interested in participating in “The American Spirit” program, visit www.theamericanspirit.org or call the North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale Rotary Foundation at 651-321-3524.

Jill Yanish can be reached at jyanish@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7825.

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