Waves of tributes on display

DOWNSTATE — Memorial Day is that special time reserved for fallen heroes.

Waves of thanks and tribute to heroes will fly, literally, in patriotic displays of red, white and blue through the Memorial Day holiday.

Flags for Heroes, a nationwide initiative that honors active duty military, veterans, police, firefighters and first responders who put their lives on the line for others, will decorate spots around downstate Delaware through efforts by Rotary International clubs.

The Dover area, Georgetown, Milford, Millsboro, Long Neck, Lewes and Seaford are among the Flag for Heroes locations in Delaware.

Sponsorship in Flags for Heroes is $50 to display a three-foot by five-foot flag. (Sponsors are buying sponsorship, not the flags, which are reused.)
The profits, in turn, benefit various community groups and efforts as chosen by the Rotary clubs.

In the state capital, the Dover Capital City Rotary’s Flags for Heroes program, in its sixth year, is a collaboration between Dover Capital City Rotary and Delaware Technical College Terry Campus to raise money for scholarships and other local public service activities.

“This year we are probably very close to hitting 400 (flags),” said Capital City Rotary president Christopher Smith, adding all proceeds “go to all of our scholarships. We give a lot of different community grants as well. Every bit of money that we raise from Flags for Heroes goes to right here in Kent County. We give all of the money back. Mostly it is college scholarships. We give some to several different charities all around Dover community.”

As in previous years, flags will remain on display at the intersection of US 13 and Scarborough Road between May 24-31. Names of the heroes will be honored in a published display.

The Georgetown/Millsboro Rotary Club’s 2019 Flags for Heroes campaign kicked off March 5. Organizers anticipated 500 flags — possibly more — will be proudly displayed at several locations in the heart of Sussex County.

This is the sixth year for the Georgetown/Millsboro Rotary’s Flags for Heroes sponsorship project, which enables heroes past and present to be remembered and celebrated in a significant manner.

“The feedback has been wonderful,” said Dan Tabler, project chairman for the Georgetown/Millsboro Rotary. “Everybody loves seeing the flags. A lot of people will stop to have their picture taken with the flags. The veterans, particularly the ones still living who are honored, we get feedback from them and they are completely honored that someone thought enough to sponsor one in their honor.”

The Circle, the picturesque heart of Georgetown, Delaware Technical Community College Owens Campus, the lot across from the Millsboro Post Office and the east entrance to the town of Millsboro return as flag display areas.

There are two new locations this year: the Millsboro Post Office and Millsboro Town Center.

“We’re going to expand Millsboro a little bit,” said Mr. Tabler. “The postmaster asked if we’d put some flags in front of the post office in Millsboro. And the town manager asked if we’d put some flags at town hall.

So, we actually will have four locations in Millsboro.”

“We did talk to them about putting some flags kind of along the perimeter of the town center,” said Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson. “Certainly, we are more than happy to have the flags in Millsboro again.

That time of year it’s always nice to have a lot of flags flying. It will be nice to have the additional locations.”

History will show that Georgetown-Millsboro Rotary borrowed the idea from the Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary’s Flags for Heroes project. Both are among the 40 Rotary clubs in District 7630, which encompasses all of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“One of members is former Delaware Secretary of State Harriet Smith Windsor. She lived in Lewes even though she was a member of our club,” said Mr. Tabler. “She saw what the Lewes/Rehoboth Club was doing and thought that we should do that. She brought the idea to the club. Everybody thought it was a great idea. She was the chair first three years, until she had health problems.”

In time for Memorial Day.

The first year, 300 flags were ordered. “We sold sponsorships for all of those, and ended up buying more flag,” said Mr. Tabler.

Flags for Heroes proceeds fund two Delaware Technical Community College scholarships and sends eight high school juniors to the Rotary Youth Leadership Conference in Ocean City, Maryland.

In addition, last year the Rotary club presented $10,000 through its community grants program to five community organizations that provide services to individuals. Recipients of $2,000 checks included:

• Clothing Our Kids;
• Community Resource Center, which provides help to the homeless and those needing assistance with food and lodging;
• Del-Mar-Va Council Boy Scouts of America;
• Lewes Lutheran Church of Our Savior, which provides ESL (English as a Second Language) to young Hispanic mother;
• and Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding, for horseback riding for handicapped children.

Georgetown/Millsboro Rotary will be recognized sponsors publicly in an insert in the July Sussex Post. Corporate sponsors receive an ad in the insert.

Milford joins displays
In Milford, tradition that began in 2014 continues with Milford Rotary Club’s Flags for Heroes project at Bicentennial Park along Front Street.

In 2018, around 250 flags were sponsored at $50 each in honor of local heroes of all kinds.

“People do stop to look at the display. It’s powerful,” said Gary Downes. “One lady was driving through, coming from Ohio and cutting through Delaware going to the beach. Her dad had been in the military, and she was practically crying. I didn’t grasp the power of our display until then.”

The club would love to see more flags filling the greenery space at the park.

“We would like to do another 100 flags,” Mr. Downes said. “We have plenty of room to do more. I think we have a lot of people who would love to have a flag in honor of a loved one or a friend who has been in the military, or a first responder, what have you.”

Proceeds from this fundraiser supply local students with scholarships. The group often raises thousands of dollars each year through the program.

“Our community is a whole lot better when we give back. All these clubs and funds, they’re all raising funds that go back into this community,” Milford Rotary Club president Jack Donovan said.

Like other clubs, Rotarians in Milford will spend hours as Memorial Day approaches installing the American flags with name placards identifying the person being honored and their sponsor. The flags at the park will stay up from about May 22 until June 2 this year.

Along with scholarships, the Milford Rotary Club uses funds raised for a variety of outreach programs for local students. They purchase dictionaries for third graders within the Milford School District and support Milford High School music programs.

They also send students to the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy and Easter Seals Camp Fairlee Manor. The Rotary Club also works with the International organization to support students in exchange programs throughout the world.

Old Glory in Western Sussex
The Nanticoke Rotary spearheads the Flags for Heroes effort in western Sussex County. Last year’s effort totaled around 500 flag sponsorships.

“We’re shooting for the same number, that is target, to reach the 500 mark again,” said Nanticoke Rotary member Rob Hemmen.

Flags will on display at two U.S. 13 locations: in front of Johnny Janosik’s World of Furniture in Laurel and between Tractor Supply and Phillips Sign on southbound U.S. 13 just north of Seaford. This marks a little change from last year’s venue.

“We’re trying to find and open enough area where they can be seen better. We were a little disappointed with last year. Last year they were down a little hill to get to them,” said Mr. Hemmen.

Proceeds fund two Nanticoke projects. “This year in particular the target is to raise funds for adding handicap features to a playground in Laurel,” Mr. Hemmen said. “The other is help fund grants. We just gave away $14,000 to five local organizations this month. That will be used to build that back up for next year. We keep it all in the local community.”

Flags went up at Cape Henlopen High School May 18 and will be showcased through June 2.
A special ceremony is scheduled Thursday, May 23 at 4:30 at the high school.
Each flag has a medallion naming the donor and the donor’s hero.
Long Neck Sunrise Rotary
A returning sponsor, Long Neck Sunrise Rotary Club will be “proudly” displaying flags in its program at Oak Orchard/Riverdale American Legion Post 28 along SR 24.
All proceeds will support local veteran programs and needs.

Camden/Wyoming Rotary
Last year, Flags for Heroes support grew to nearly 300 flags. Through this community support, the Camden-Wyoming Rotary Club was able to award $8,000 in scholarships in 2018.

The hope is to continue that level of scholarship giving in 2019. Flags will be placed the Thursday before Memorial Day and retrieved the Tuesday after.

Two options for flag placement are Brecknock Park or in the sponsor’s front yard.

Often, Rotary clubs that do not have a Flags for Heroes program support those clubs that do.

Tonda Parks, president of Dover Downtown Rotary, says that while her club does not facilitate a program itself “a lot of our members buy them. The Capital City Club is the one that spearheads it.”

“We usually donate money toward it, for either Georgetown or Milford,” “said Mary Trice, president of the Greenwood/Harrington/Felton Centennial Rotary Club. “Last year I think it was Camden/Wyoming. We don’t have one ourselves, but those that do and we donate towards what they have.”

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