You can't miss St. Mark's United Methodist Church at 610 Evans Road in Evansdale. In honor of Veterans Day, more than 100 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's. 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, my dad served and my brother served, so I have their flags in the mix," said Paul Lentfer.
The veterans' flags are embroidered with a service member'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 veteran's flags, the church's display includes white signs for coalition casualties in Operations 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 4, 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.
His goal is to have 200 veteran's flags and 100 first responder flags on display at St. Mark's United Methodist Church by the year 2020.
Those interested in purchasing a flag for the display can contact St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Evansdale at (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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