A place for Old Glory
By Joe Fragano
Lots of Americans like to show their patriotism by flying an American flag at their homes or businesses, but what happens to those flags after they get old and tattered?
Franky Morales is committed to raising awareness about properly retiring American flags and is providing area residents who have older flags that need replacing with a solution.
“It’s been an idea for years,” he said. “A lot of people just don’t know what to do with their flags when they’re starting to show their age. Sometimes their flags are faded or torn, and they just leave them because they don’t know what to do with them.”
Morales created the boxes as part of his journey to become an Eagle Scout, and part of his advancement through the scouts involves participating in public service.
“He started out, was very quiet, shy and introverted,” Scout Master Mark Stewart said about Morales. “Over the years, he’s become quite the leader for the troop.”
Morales saw a need and filled it by placing boxes in Providence Village and Savannah where people can take their flags that need to be retired.
“He worked with Sturm here in Pilot Point,” Stewart said. “They helped fabricate the boxes for him, and then he had them painted and put stickers on them that describe what they’re for.”
Morales then collects the flags and brings them back to his Boy Scouts troop, where they can be officially retired by people who are knowledgeable of the protocols and proceedings of proper flag retirement.
The boxes are in Hero Park in Providence Village and the parking lot of the Savannah Clubhouse.
Morales goes to the boxes personally and unlocks them so he can take the older flags back to his scout troop where they can be properly retired.
The project is just a small part of Morales’ path through the Scouts, but the program is one he feels personally close to. Morales’ grandfather served in Vietnam, and Morales honors his service by educating others on the proper protocols of retiring American flags that are no longer fit to fly.
The placement of the Providence Village box in Hero Park on Providence Boulevard was no accident either.
Eric Mattson, a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services who lived in Providence Village, was a frequent contributor to Morales’ troop before his death a few months ago.
Mattson was co-founder of the Providence Village Hope Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing charitable service to veterans and first responders who were injured in the line of duty. Morales said Mattson had a special connection with Hero Park, and that placing the box in the park was his way of showing respect for Mattson’s service.
“I felt that this was a really good way to kind of thank him,” Morales said. “Hero Park was sort of his project.”
Morales believes that every American flag deserves respect, no matter how faded the stars or stripes may be. His collection program provides anyone with the opportunity to do the right thing and retire their flag with dignity and honor.
“We’ve committed to, even when Franky’s not in the troop any more, checking those boxes on a semi-regular basis to get the flags from them, and then we save up the flags to have them retired,” Stewart said.