Siuslaw Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Kim Stokes noticed something was missing when she started teaching at the school two years ago. There was no American flag on the flagpole.
When she asked about this, she was told differing reasons as to why.
“I was told the flag had gotten ripped. I was told the rope was too frayed,” Stokes said.
She decided to do something about this.
“I called the Florence Elks Lodge and they offered to donate a flag,” Stokes said.
Unbeknownst to Stokes, the Siuslaw Middle School had also requested a flag from the Elks. Signals got crossed and only one flag was ordered. When she tried to make arrangements to pick up the flag she learned the middle school had already acquired the flag.
Local Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Commander David Stitt learned of the flag problem through elementary school custodian and veteran Ken Hill.
Stitt and DAV board members Ralph Martin, Wally Morey, John Ingram, Ritchie Unger, David Burkett, Marty Compton and Harold Johnson donated personal money to purchase the outdoor flag and five indoor flags, one for each of the five kindergarten classes.
Stokes’ class invited Stitt to the classroom and then to have a picture taken outside, next to the flagpole with the second-graders.
(photo by John Stokes)
“He came in and gave the class a wonderful speech. He asked students who wanted to be in the military. He was an army NCO. He gave the kids some great motivation as to why they should serve. He shared his experiences and told some stories of his time in the army,” Stokes said.
“He ended up being this great guest speaker that we hadn’t planned on,” she added.
“I was pretty enthused to watch the class,” Stitt said. “After the flag salute, they even sang a song for me.”
According to Stokes, Stitt asked her if the class needed anything else, including classroom supplies.
Stitt reaffirmed that all the money for the flags and any other future donations the board might make to the school would come from personal funds from board members and not from DAV funds.
Stitt explained what DAV does with the money it collects for veterans.
“DAV gathers donations and we send it out to the retirement homes for people who have been in the military that don’t have homes, are injured and stay in the hospitals,” he said.
DAV also donates to Siuslaw Outreach Services (SOS).
“The money we donate to SOS is placed in a fund for veterans. We have veterans who are strays who come through town and need gas money, food or a motel room for the night,” Stitt said.
For more information on DAV, or to make a contribution, call 541-997-1562.