The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce recently announced the kick-off of the Plaza Flag Project, which is based on a vision originated by a group of local residents several years ago to adorn the light standards on Skubitz Plaza with U.S. flags and donor plaques in honor of those who have served -- or are currently serving -- in the military.
"We thought it would be a great way to display our patriotism, as well as provide something people would want to view," FSACC Executive Director Lindsay Madison said.
Local veteran and Project Chairman Ken Lunt said he and a group of local veterans brought an idea to the chamber several years ago to post U.S. flags along Main Street, but it never fully materialized.
Lunt said he talked to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1165 and a few other groups and handpicked a committee of six other people who are veterans, "but who also have a great deal of pride in the flag," and got the project rolling again.
Community members now have an opportunity to purchase a donor flag and engraved plaque that will be posted on 17 light poles on Skubitz Plaza. Each flag will have an engraved plaque, or nameplate, featuring the serviceman or servicewoman's name. Flags can be purchased in honor of loved ones, friends or relatives, whether they were killed in action or served in the military.
"The flags will be up to beautify the plaza, but also to make people look at it and hopefully remember to think about the men who serve now and have served," Lunt said. "We forget too often the people who have given their lives and lost loved ones."
Lunt said he served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a sniper scout in Korea when he was 17 years old.
He noted the flags are also appropriate because Fort Scott is a "military town" that served as a frontier military outpost during the mid-1800s.
Madison, who is on an advisory committee for the project, said the idea was presented several months ago to the Fort Scott City Commission.
Fort Scott National Historic Site staff is also involved in the project in an advisory capacity. City workers will install the flags and plaques.
Money raised from the project will be set aside in a special fund that will go toward the cost of the flags and any repairs or maintenance that needs to be done to the flags or poles over time, Madison said.
The cost to purchase a donor flag and engraved plaque is $100. The opportunity will be open to the public on a first-paid, first-served basis until the 42 available places are filled. Plaques will remain in place year-round while the flags will be raised from March 15 to Dec. 15 each year, a news release said.
The price includes a flag, a special flag arm and a plaque that will be labeled "in honor of" or "in memory of" someone, "depending on the situation," Lunt said.
Fourteen of the 42 available flags and plaques have already been reserved, Madison said Wednesday.
She added the flags will last approximately one to two years and be replaced at one time to keep the display looking fresh. Donors will have the option to renew at the end of the flag's life. Cost to renew the flag and plaque will be $25.
If the original donor does not renew, a new one can replace that spot with a new flag and plaque for $100.
After learning of the project, Twister Trailer, a local company, offered to chip in a high-quality aluminum material that will be used for the donor plaques. John Bartelsmeyer, of Bartelsmeyer Jewelry, offered to contribute the plaque engraving, the release said.
Lunt said the project could expand in the future to include areas around Fort Scott.
"The project committee has talked about sometime having them down National, along Wall Street as you enter the city," he said. "A lot of towns have done that."
A local volunteer will double-stitch the flags to help keep them more durable in the Kansas wind. Each plaque will note who donated the flag and who it is in honor or in memory of. The flag arms are special as they will keep Old Glory from wrapping around them.
The project committee includes Lunt, Bill Danley, Bill Hall, Beth Nuss, Arnold Schofield, Jim Scott and Jim Walker.
Advisory members are Madison, Eric Bailey, Betty Boyko, Susan Brown, Kelley Collins, Bryan Holt and Dave Martin.
"If not for volunteers and the city's cooperation, we wouldn't get things done in Fort Scott," Lunt said.
For more information about the project, or to purchase a flag and plaque, contact the chamber at (620) 223-3566, or any committee member. Information is also available on the chamber's website, www.fortscott.com.