SYSK: Mike Thompson sets up flag display for veterans - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: Mike Thompson sets up flag display for veterans

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EVANSDALE (KWWL) -

You can't miss St. Mark's United Methodist Church at 610 Evans Road in Evansdale. In honor of Veterans Day, more than a hundred flags cover much of the church's lawn.

"I wanted to make a commitment to thanking veterans," said Mike Thompson of Evansdale.

Mike Thompson brought the display to his church in 2006, but he actually started it two years before by purchasing an American flag from the Healing Field, which honors victims of 9-11.

"I wanted a way to honor the coalition casualties that were being honored with those flags. I got one of the flags and that was the first one I put up in my yard at home," he said.

Thompson approached his church about moving the display from his yard to the church. Then members of the congregation bought more flags through a fundraiser for Iowa's Bravest, a local organization that sends appreciation packages to Iowans serving overseas.

"When he started to expand it to include everyone's family members...." said Paul Lentfer.

The veterans' flags are embroidered with a servicemember's name. Most of the names represent people from eastern Iowa.

"It's really been quite a thing for the community. Really," said Lentfer.

Besides veterans flags, the church's display includes white signs for coalition casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Two years ago, Mike Thompson added a section devoted to first responders.

"For first responders, veterans and their families -- think of them daily, thank them often," said Mike Thompson.

Thompson puts the flag display up for Memorial Day, July 4th, 9-11 and Veterans Day. He said putting all these flags up four times a year is the least he can do to say thank you.

"All the things our veterans, our military person and our first responders go through everyday, this is the easy part here," said Thompson.

By the year 2020, his goal is to have 200 veterans flags and 100 first responder flags on display at St. Mark's United Methodist Church.

If you're interested in purchasing a flag for the display, contact St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Evansdale. That number is 319-233-9163.

The cost of a flag is between $15 and $20. A memorial fund at the church pays for all the flag holders.

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