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"Together Decatur" Columnist and Food and Drink Reporter

“Together Decatur” columnist and food and drink reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

Powless_Kathie 3.13.19

Macon County Veteran's Assistance Commission Superintendent Kathie Powless shows old flags at the commission’s office drop-off site for worn American flags and cut-out embroidered stars from old flags that are distributed to help spread patriotism.

DECATUR — The faded stars from a worn out, retired American flag may not have the glow they once had, but they still hold a patriotic sparkle.

The 1-inch stars were once part of an American flag that became battered and frayed as it served its duty to honor the country over the years. The stars shine again in a new role: They are cut out and placed in a small baggie along with a short note explaining their importance.

“I am a part of our American flag. I have flown over a home in the U.S.A. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that you are not forgotten,” the small card reads.

Decatur couple Dwane and Karen Seger learned a friend, who once served in Vietnam, received a similar star. The simple gesture had a positive effect on the veteran, as well as the Segers. With a plan to pay it forward, the couple set up an assembly line of old flags, baggies and printed note cards.

“I set in my chair and cut out the stars and the wife stuffs them in the bag,” Dwane Seger said.

flag star 3.13.19

Dwane and Karen Seger cut out embroidered stars from old, worn American flags and package them with a message to hand out.

The couple collects the flags from the Veteran's Assistance Commission of Macon County Inc.

Kathie Powless, superintendent for the commission, accepts used flags from the community. Many of the flags have been donated by individuals, businesses and county agencies.

“They know we are a flag drop-off place,” Powless said.

She will set aside the flags with the 1-inch stars for the Segers. In turn, the Segers return to the veterans office with prepared stars in baggies.

“You’d be amazed at the reaction you get,” Powless said.

flag collection site 3.13.19

The Macon County Veteran's Assistance Commission office in the Macon County Office Building is a drop-off site for worn American flags.

The reactions have been positive for the giver and receiver, Powless said. She often gets requests for more.

“They are so tickled by it, they want to share it,” she said. “It just keeps going.”

Brandi Binkley recently received a couple of the prepared stars for her children. She described her two sons as patriotic boys.

“They are into history and anything American flag or red, white and blue,” she said.

Maroa-Forsyth third-grader Maddex and sixth-grader Nathen Jr. study history in school, of course, but they often that into their free time. Binkley said both boys were excited when they received the stars.

“They didn’t realize you could do that with the flag,” she said. “It sparked their interest, and they wanted to learn more. They’ve learned a lot, but this is extra special.”

The remainder of the flag is given to a local Boy Scout troop for proper disposal. The U.S. Flag Code calls for retired flags to be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. Powless has also given older flags to a funeral home for a proper cremation with deceased veterans.

"Once the stars are cut out of it, it is still taken care of in a patriotic way, as it should be," Powless said. "It has all the respect it deserves."

Within a year, the Segers said they have been able to prepare 6,000 stars. They keep a few for themselves and take a collection of stars to various community and veterans organizations and agencies, including Disabled American Veterans office, the Veterans Association Illiana Healthcare System in Danville, Tabernacle Baptist Church, the rehabilitation department at Decatur Memorial Hospital and the Macon County Honor Guard.

As a volunteer for veterans, Ayn Owens of Decatur has given away several stars and is impressed by the reaction and emotions they spark.

“It’s almost like a patriotic campaign,” she said. “It brings some patriotism to people on an everyday basis.”


Historic U.S. flag photos

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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

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