American Legion Member’s Ingenuity Makes Putting Up Flags A Breeze

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Boy Scout Troop 645 member Evan Theriault, 14, places a flag on Main Street on Monday, Feb. 19. Fred Pearson, left, created a device to keep the flagpole holes from filling with sand and debris.

Just before 8 a.m. this morning, a small crowd gathered on Main Street in Hermiston to prepare to put up American flags along Main Street and beyond.

It’s a ritual that takes place eight times a year for the following holidays:

  • Martin Luther King in January
  • President’s Day in February
  • Memorial Day in May
  • Flag Day in June
  • Independence Day in July
  • Labor Day in September
  • Patriot’s Day in September
  • Veteran’s Day in November

On Monday morning, volunteers learned their task for the morning became much easier thanks to the effort and ingenuity of Fred Pearson, a member of the Hermiston American Legion.

Up until recently, the holes along the sidewalks in which the flags are placed did not have covers and would get filled with sand and debris making it impossible to place the flagpoles.

Fred Pearson of Hermiston displays the cover he created to keep debris from filling up the flagpole holes along Main Street and beyond.

“Volunteers would have to bring spoons, forks, garden tools – whatever they had to dig the holes out,” Pearson said. So, last September on Patriot’s Day, Pearson decided to solve the problem by creating covers for the flagpole holes. He got Ross Machine & Steel Sales to donate metal to cover the holes. Pearson had the metal cut into circles and welded a short piece of plastic pipe to the metal cover and got A-Plus Connectors to donate rubber washers. They were designed to perfectly fit the holes and keep debris out.

Each cover has a small hole that can be attached to a hook on the flags, then removed at the end of the day to cover up the hole again when the flags are taken down.

Pearson, 68, managed to put together around 70 covers between the time it took the volunteers to put the flags up in the morning and take them down at the end of the day.

“It’s a very simple thing that does away with a lot of frustration,” he said, adding that he got help from Glenn Chowning.

Pearson was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne from 1974 to 1976 before going to Italy and serving with the 509th Airborne Combat Team until 1978.

“The 509th was a small first strike unit,” Pearson said. “We were the only active U.S. Airborne troops in Europe. It was a very good experience.”

Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation Executive Director Liz Marvin, fifth from the right, provides some background to President’s Day Monday morning on Hermiston’s Main Street.

The Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation has taken over the flag program with help from the Hermiston Kiwanis Club. The program had been run by local Boy Scouts, but became too much for them after several troops folded, leaving just Troop 645 to do the task. Prior to the Boy Scouts, the program was run by the local VFW. Members of Troop 645 still help and were out today putting up the flags along Main Street, Hermiston Avenue and small portion of Highway 395 near Java Junkies.

Liz Marvin, the foundation’s executive director, called Pearson a “community hero” for his endeavor.

Pearson downplays his effort.

“It really isn’t that big of a deal,” he said. “I like to say that I can’t help solve all the world’s problems, but the world needs all the help I can give.”

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