Celebrating a Decade of Honoring Veterans in Gardner on Flag Day

Flag Day Display
Lieutenant Jim Halkola, Dean Cosentino US Army Ret., student MJ Umali-Gorman, Chief Melissa Croteau, Veteran student Norman Cole, and Wil Leslie of The Salvation Army.

This year marks a significant milestone for our community in Gardner as The Salvation Army celebrates the 10th anniversary of its flag-placing tradition. This heartfelt initiative began a decade ago, initially held in front of city hall for the first two years before moving to Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC), where it has been held ever since—even during the challenging times of COVID-19.

Honoring Veterans with Flags

Each flag placed represents a Veteran, a powerful visual reminder of their service and sacrifice. For every $20 received in donations, the Veterans are honored with the display of their names on The Salvation Army website.

“Despite the many changes over the years, we are committed to continuing this tradition,” says Wil Leslie, Service Extension Director of The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division. “We thank MWCC for being part of this journey over the past ten years and look forward to many more years of making a positive impact on the lives of our Veterans and their families.”

Raising Awareness and Support for Veterans

The primary purpose of this event has always been to raise awareness and financial support for the issues facing our Veterans. The very first expenditure from The Salvation Army funds generated by the flag fundraiser was the purchase of a textbook for a Veteran who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to start classes at MWCC. Since then, efforts have provided tens of thousands of dollars to support our fellow Veterans in various ways.

These include:

  • Heat and Utility Assistance: Helping Veterans keep their homes warm and their utilities running.
  • Housing Support: Assisting with housing needs to ensure Veterans have a safe place to live.
  • Summer Camp for Kids: Making summer camp affordable for Veterans’ families, giving their children memorable experiences at places like Camp Wonderland in Sharon, MA, information at www.campwonderland.org.
  • Support for Active-Duty Military: Meeting the diverse needs of active-duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.

Flag Replacement and Future Plans

The flags do not last forever, they are reused for as many years as possible, but many need replacement. Thanks to a generous donor, they are able to replace most, but not all of the flags, and as such welcome donations. The flags cost $1.25 each and are manufactured in the USA.

To learn more about The Salvation Army and their Massachusetts Veterans Fund visit Salvationarmyma.org/Veterans.