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.
Dwane and Karen Seger cut out embroidered stars from old, worn American flags and package them with a message to hand out.
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.
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.”
"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
Historic U.S. flag photos
Flag Day is celebrated every year on June 14 thanks to a proclamation issued by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14 in 1777.
In celebration of Flag Day, take a look back at historic photos of the United States flag.
Historic US Flags
From the Old Time Shop in Lenox, Mass. comes this historic flag to be exhibited at the country antiques fair, 71st Regt. Armory, Park Ave. at 34th St. on April 9-14. Discovered in the attic of an old farmhouse in Lee, Mass., the flag once hung from the "Old Liberty Tree" in Boston as a signal to the Sons of Liberty to prepare for action against the English - until cut down by the irate British in 1775. Governor Francis Bernard of the Massachusetts colony writing to Lord Hillsborough on June 18, 1768 mentions that: ?Liberty Tree is a large elm upon which effigies were hung in the time of the Stamp Act, and from whence mobs made their parades. In August, last, they erected a flagstaff which went through the tree and a good deal above the top. Upon this they hoist a flag as a signal for the Sons of Liberty, as they are called. (AP Photo)
Giant American flag
A giant American flag is displayed by the Amoskeag River Mills in Manchester, N.H., on July 4, 1915. The flag measured about 95 feet long, 50 feet high and weighed some 200 lbs.
Star Spangled Banner
An exact duplicate of the huge, original “Star Spangled Banner” made by Mary Pickersgill and flown over Ft. McHenry, September 13 and 14, 1814 was presented to the City of Baltimore by the Master Brewers Association of America. The flag was placed in the memorial. General view showing flag being carried across to the War Memorial Plaza its repository in Baltimore, Md., on Oct. 8, 1941. (AP Photo)
World War II
Torn and battle-stained, this American flag, the first ashore in Morocco at the start of the North African campaign on November 8 is put on display at Washington on March 4, 1943 at the War Department Building. Lt. Dallas Halverstadt points out hole torn by first fire of action at Fedala as the flag was carried ashore on initial landing boat.
Flag Day 1952
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower waves to confetti-tossing crowds lining the parade route to Detroit's City Hall, June 14, 1952, where he made a non-political Flag Day address. A mammoth flag, said to be the largest American flag in the world, covers the front of a large department store in the background. Man in the front of the car is unidentified.
Stars and Stripes
Unfurled against a picturesque English sky, the replica of an earlier ?Stars and Stripes? with its thirteen stars and thirteen bars makes a brave picture in London on March 21, 1943. It will later unfurl permanently in a place of honor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Four early American flags
These are four of the early American flags shown June 20, 1948, made by Mrs. William H. Jenkins, retired history teacher in Chicago public schools. At top, left is the first flag to fly on New England soil. It is the Raven flag of Leif Ericson. The Raven symbolized the search for land. Top, right, is the cross of St. George, used by John Cabot on his voyages in the 15th century. It was also used by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock. At bottom, left, is the "Victory or Death" flag of the Minutemen at Concord on April 19, 1775. And at bottom, right, is the Bennington, Vt., flag flown by New England troops in 1777. The 13-seven-point stars over the ?76? represented the occasion of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
Oldest U.S. flag in existence; Old Glory
The largest collection of historic and priceless American flags ever assembled at one time in one place will be displayed by the American Legion in the Chrysler Salon at New York City between June 8-17 as part of the Legion?s nation-wide ?New Glory for Old Glory? campaign. Shown here looking at what is thought to be the oldest U.S. flag in existence are on June 6, 1955: left to right: Tom F. Morrow, General Manager of Defense Operation Division, Chrysler Corp.; James F. O?Neill, Past National Commander of the American Legion and Vice President Richard M. Nixon. (AP Photo)
First American flag sewing
As Flag Day, June 14, nears, Mrs. Robert Alexander reenacts the sewing of the first American flag in 1776, with an assist from her daughter Nancy, 5. They wear authentic costumes of the period, in the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia, Pa. on June 9, 1961. Here, according to tradition which may or may not be based on fact, the widowed Betsy Ross stitched together the first Stars and Stripes.
Grand Union flag
The Grand Union flag, bottom, our first truly national flag, is an evolution from earlier Red Ensigns, top and center shown Dec. 13, 1975. The additions of the words "Liberty and Union" and of the 13 "rebellious stripes" were part of that evolution: the American flag was born as the nation was born, slowly and place by piece. The Grand Union, first run up by John Paul Jones in 1775, continued as the unofficial national flag until Independence.
Battle-torn American flag; Pearl Harbor
This oil-stained, battle-torn American flag was flying proudly from a captain?s gig in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese struck on December 7, 1941. Battle missiles tore it from its staff and tossed into the bay from where it was retrieved by Lieut. Commander Fred Welden, who sent it back to the United States. It is being held by L.E. White (left) and Clyde E. Wilson, Yeomen in the Naval recruiting office at Kansas City on April 23, 1942. (AP Photo)
Home-made copies of early American flags
Mrs. William H. Jenkins, a retired history teacher in Chicago public schools, is teaching citizenship with home-made copies of early American flags. The daughter of a Civil War Veteran, Mrs. Jenkins studied every text available on flag history and began making her own reproductions of the most famous ones. Her creations are used to illustrate lectures given by her on flag history. Mrs. Jenkins works on her copy of the Betsy Ross flag on June 20, 1948, which has adopted by Congress in Philadelphia on June 14, 1777. It has 13 five-point stars arranged in a circle on a field on blue, with 13 alternate red and white stripes. The small flag in the sewing basket (right) is the flag of courthouse. It was on the courthouse of the town of Guilford, N.C., during an important battle of the revolution, in 1781. The stars in the canton were set in horizontal rows. (AP Photo/Edward Kitch)
48 Stars flag
Historical U.S. Flag with only 48 stars on June 29, 1957. (AP Photo)
Barbara Buchanan, president of the Pike County Historial Society, points to a blood stain on a flag at the historical society's museum in Milford, Pa., Thursday, June, 20,1996. For decades, skeptics scoffed at claims that a U.S. flag in a rural Pennsylvania museum had served as a pillow for the bleeding head of Abraham Lincoln the night he was assassinated in 1865. A cynical Lincoln scholar investigated the claim and was stunned after finding that the flag, taken from Ford's Theatre by a stage manager, is legitimate. (AP Photo/Craig Houtz)
A flag that decorated the Presidential box at Ford's Theatre the night of Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865 is displayed at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, Conn., Thursday, July 5, 2001. Period illustrations suggest that the president might have clutched the flag the moment he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. (AP Photo/Steve Miller)
Field of stars
Sixth graders from the Halifax Elementary School help unfurl a field of stars which will become part of an American flag, at the Halifax Congregational Church in Halifax, Mass., Thursday, March 7, 2002. The flag will be part of the National Flag Exhibit, a collection of 45-foot by 90-foot U.S. and foreign flags based at the Boston National Historical Park. (AP Photo/Julia Malakie)
Civil War flag
Marie Kirby, of Des Moines, left, and Dorothy Potthoff, of Jefferson, view an Iowa Civil War flag that is dispalyed following restoration, Wednesday, April 20, 2005, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. The flag was carried by the 33rd Iowa Infantry, a group of farmers, businessmen and craftsmen who left their families in the fall of 1862. About a third of the unit survived battle and disease to return home in 1865, said Bill Johnson, curator for the State Historical Society of Iowa.(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Gary Eichman takes a glimpse of first American Flag sewn in Oregon at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, June 29, 2011. The Oregon Historical Society is displaying an impressive piece of history from its vault, what is believed to be the very first American flag sewn in Oregon. One hundred and fifty years ago, Oregon pioneer Ann Elizabeth Bills was asked to sew an American flag to celebrate Independence Day. This flag, which is being displayed at the Oregon Historical Society for the first time, has been well preserved since its first flight on 4th street in Portland on July 4, 1861. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
The stars from the first American Flag sewn in Oregon is shown at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, June 29, 2011. The Oregon Historical Society is displaying an impressive piece of history from its vault, what is believed to be the very first American flag sewn in Oregon. One hundred and fifty years ago, Oregon pioneer Ann Elizabeth Bills was asked to sew an American flag to celebrate Independence Day. This flag, which is being displayed at the Oregon Historical Society for the first time, has been well preserved since its first flight on 4th street in Portland on July 4, 1861. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR