Seven times a year, more than 500 flags appear around Lake Forest, a reminder of the tradition and patriotism that define the community.
“Once in a while, someone will pull up next to us and thank us with tears in their eyes,” said Dave Burgess.
Burgess has been flag chairman of since 2006, when he retired and moved back to Lake Forest. Burgess also runs the food tent at the Lake Forest Day carnival.
The flags are out on Memorial Day, Flag Day (June 14), Independence Day, Lake Forest Day, Labor Day (Market Square only) and Veterans Day.
“We do not do Columbus Day and a few other [events] because there are no military connections,” said Burgess.
Bill Gretz, public relations officer for Post 264, stressed the importance of presenting a high-quality, clean American flag. “We promote high-quality flags,” he said. The flags put out by the Legion are made from nylon with each of the stars and stripes stitched on separately.
Crews of volunteers young and old are responsible for putting up the flags. Lake Forest Day is one of the easier events, Burgess said, because the volunteers go out at 6 a.m. on Wednesday when there aren’t many people out.
“Everyone had been working like dogs,” Gretz said of this year’s flag set-up. “Waking up at 5:15 a.m. wasn’t something we were looking forward to, but we did it.”
“There isn’t much talking going on that early,” Burgess said. He said it’s much harder to achieve on busy afternoons when there is more traffic.
Legion members are often helped by the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, Burgess said. On Wednesday, three crews of Legion members installed flags with volunteers from the Boy Scouts and members of Lake Forest High School’s National Honors Society.
The flags are purchased by the American Legion, supported by fundraisers and a merchant’s program. Merchants can make donations in order to have a flag installed outside their business, Gretz said. Flags are installed by punching a hole in the sidewalk and inserting a PVC pipe. For more information, merchants can call 312-696-7639.
American Legion Post 264 offers a respectful way to discard your old flags. Simply drop them off at the American Legion’s office, 801 North McKinley Road, and they will be properly burned.