Geneseo Republic - Geneseo, IL
  • Aisle of Flags running out of storage space

  • On Memorial Day, July 4th and Veterans Day, hundreds of American flags proudly fly in Geneseo’s City Park as part of the?Aisle of Flags.

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  • On Memorial Day, July 4th and Veterans Day, hundreds of American flags proudly fly in Geneseo’s City Park as part of the?Aisle of Flags.
    The flags spend the other 362 days of the year in storage space that is becoming very limited.
    The 664 American flags are kept in their own cylindrical tubes on a trio of hayracks crammed in to a two-car garage.
    “We’re in the building so tightly,” said Aisle of Flags volunteer Bob DeBoever.
    When volunteers want to remove the hayracks, they must use their hands to force the garage door up past its normal “open” height in order to inch the hayracks out.
    “We’re scraping the top as it is,” said Bob.
    Geneseo’s Aisle of Flags started 31 years ago as a way to honor veterans from the community.
    The majority of the flags are casket flags presented to a veteran’s family, however some families opt to keep their own casket flag and purchase a flag of similiar dimensions for the Aisle of Flags, said volunteer Judy DeBoever.
    “At our first meeting, someone asked if we should keep records, and then someone else said, ‘No. We’ll never have more than 50 flags.’ We had 96 flags that first year,” said Pat Johnson, who founded the Aisle of Flags with Naomi Livengood and Dorothy Young.
    The flags were originally stored at the VFW post hall, but quickly outgrew the storage space available there.
    Today, the flags are stored in a cement-block building near Good Samaritan Village.
    “The building was built with a lot of free labor and donations on the Wally and Naomi Livengood property years ago,” said Judy. “The building belongs to us, but it’s sitting on property that doesn’t belong to us.”
    Though the Aisle of Flags group has lifetime use of the building, not owning the land prohibits the group from expanding the building.
    “We have a quick deed that says (the building) is ours, but we’ve been to several lawyers and that little piece where the building sits can’t be zoned to us,” said Judy. “We do pay taxes and insurance on the building and flags.”
    The building’s cement-block design also prohibits the group from relocating the structure.
    Instead group hopes to raise $100,000 for another building for their flags.
    “We love the building we’re in, and because we have lifetime use of it, we plan to keep using it. We just need another space for extra storage,” said?Judy.
    The Aisle of Flags’ current storage facility lacks electricity.
    “We did that on purpose to help reduce the risk of fire,” said Bob. The cement-block structure also prevents mice from entering the building and damaging the flags.
    Page 2 of 2 - Ideally, the group would like to purchase or build a similarly secure structure.
    “We’d like to be as close to the park as we can,” said?Judy.
    The 664 American flags in the Aisle of Flags represent veterans as far back as the American Civil War.
    Each flag also consists of a three-part flagpole.
    “The poles come apart in three sections. The top one holds the flag. The middle has the veteran’s name plate on it, and the bottom one fits into the sleeve in the ground,” said Judy.
    On Memorial Day, July 4th and Veterans Day, volunteers gather in the Geneseo City?Park to help place the flags. In the afternoon, volunteers also help take down the display.
    “We simply couldn’t do this without the support of the people in Geneseo,” said Judy.
    Geneseo’s Aisle of Flags is a 501(c)3 organization. Donations may be mailed to: Aisle of Flags, 12302 N. 2100 Ave., Geneseo, IL 61254
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