Flags Fly for Heroes in Gaithersburg: Area Rotary Clubs Partner for Event

Article by Samantha Schmieder, Gazette.com, Staff writer Posted Friday, May 22, 2015 Throughout Memorial Day weekend, 750 American flags will soar on the hill at Bohrer Park, each representing a hero. “Flags for our Heroes” was first organized by the Montgomery Village Rotary Club for Memorial Day in 2014. According to past-president and current member, Rick Carder, this year the Montgomery Village club reached out to the Gaithersburg Rotary Club to expand the project and include their neighbors in the display. “Flags for our Heroes” is a community event in which individuals were given the opportunity to sponsor a flag for $50 in honor of someone they believe is a hero. Different levels of corporate sponsorship were also available. The honoree could be anyone from a member of the armed forces to a teacher, coach or mentor. On Saturday at 11 a.m., a public opening ceremony will take place at the park with City of Gaithersburg representatives, as well as ROTC students and Boy Scouts participating. Each flag will be adorned with medallions recognizing the heroes and those who sponsored each of them can go through the rows in order to find their flag. Flags will be available for sponsorship throughout the weekend. Linda Hanson, the president-elect of the Gaithersburg Rotary, explained that although having to dig 250 holes and install the tubing required to fly their group’s flag was a lot of work, she is excited. “We really saw the significance of it last year,” Hanson said. She explained that “Flags for our Heroes” helps renew the real reason for Memorial Day beyond just the notion that it’s the beginning of summer when pools traditionally open. Hanson said she would love to continue a partnership with Montgomery Village. She said she has “seen the strength when clubs band together.” This year, with about 500 flags sponsored, the Montgomery Village club grossed between $20,000 and $30,000 because they had the extra expense of the flags to take care of first. This year they are using the same flags and raised a little over $34,000, according to Carder. Gaithersburg had to purchase their flags for the first time this year and ended up collecting 250 sponsorships. Carder emphasized how wonderful of a partner the City of Gaithersburg has been by explaining that not only are they allowing the clubs to use the land, but they also allow them keep the tubing in the ground, which allows the flags to stand, installed year-round. Throughout the weekend, Boy Scout Troop 457, of Rockville, will camp out on the site to act as security for the flags. Some of the money raised by the sponsorships went towards the troop’s camping needs. The remaining funds will be used to help fund the many scholarships, grants and community events that each rotary’s nonprofit foundations support. “One of the projects that we do as rotary clubs in the area is give out dictionaries to every third-grader,” Carder said. Hanson called a partnership with the city as well as the Montgomery Village club for the dictionary project “a natural fit” and hopes to expand it to reach every school in the Gaithersburg area. Read Article