Students at the Maclay School in Tallahassee, Florida have a special connection to their American flags during the morning recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance: the flags, signed by troops fighting around the world, have flown over combat zones like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cameroon.
And it’s not just a one-sided transaction either. Under the leadership of retired Colonel Gene Sherron, representing the Northside Rotary Club and the Junior Beta Club at Maclay, students have been assembling “care packages” for troops overseas to demonstrate appreciation for their service.
Student Mary Shelton has participated in the project over the course of the past year saying, “They did an assembly line all across my classroom. Not only that, [but] each box contained a personal note written from the students and thanking our troops.”
Colonel Sherron started the project seven years ago. He saw firsthand during his time with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam that our troops often feel forgotten when the fighting is so far from home. So, when the Division was sent to Iraq years later, Sherron decided to get the Tallahassee community involved in order to rectify that disconnect between the troops and Americans back home. The mission is especially important for young people.
Originally he and his wife scoured stores for discounts after the holidays. Then the Tallahassee Costco heard about the project and stepped up to assist. Over 700 packages have been shipped so far, and in many of those packages is an American flag with a request for it to be flown over a combat zone.
Recently, Maclay students were called to an assembly for a special “thank you” from our troops at the receiving end of the care packages. There, in the auditorium, were displayed several flags that had returned home, complete with the signatures of men and women who had fought under that flag.
“It comes back to the students to hang in their classroom,” said Colonel Sherron. “So, now they don’t have just a plain old flag, they have a flag that has been flown in a combat zone.”
Photo Credit: WCTV