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'Old Glory' flies uptown
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Martinsville Exchange Club member Michelle Stone-Agee stands with flags the group has on display in uptown Martinsville today. The club puts up the flags for patriotic holidays, including Independence Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day. The flags will be on display until around 5 p.m. today. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

From Bulletin staff reports

People driving in uptown Martinsville today certainly will not forget it is Independence Day.

For the holiday, the Martinsville Exchange Club has installed 140 American flags on sidewalks along various uptown streets, including Fayette, Church and Main.

The flags will be removed shortly after 5 p.m. today. While the city was glad to give permission for the flags to be displayed, city rules prohibit them from remaining on display overnight, according to Ralph Lawson, president of the Colonial District Exchange Club serving Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

A major project of the Exchange Club is promoting Americanism, Lawson said, adding he hopes the flags remind people to be respectful of “Old Glory” and think about sacrifices that soldiers have made to protect America.

“So many brave folks have given their time and given their lives” to keep the nation free, he emphasized.

Lawson, who also is executive director of the local American Red Cross chapter based in Martinsville, said it seems people are not as patriotic as they used to be.

“I’m amazed at how many people,” for instance, no longer remove their hats and put their hands over their hearts when the National Anthem is played, he said.

Lawson hopes they will be more patriotic in the future.

The Exchange Club has been displaying the flags for several years on patriotic holidays. Lawson said it originally was a Martinsville Jaycees project before that organization disbanded. The Exchange Club took it over after the flags were absent for a few years.

Lawson said the flags will be displayed next on National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day on July 27.

Other holidays during which they will be displayed include Veterans Day and Labor Day, he said.


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