OC Legion looking for help to replace flags on bridges

The James M. Henderson American Legion Post in Oil City is looking to replace the American flags on the bridges in Oil City.

“The wear and tear (on the flags) from the wind is terrible,” post Commander Larry Bowers said. “This summer the wind was unbelievable. We had a lot of bad weather.”

Bowers said the Legion checks the flags every year, replaces the ones that are worn out and washes the ones that are still in good shape before putting them back up.

About 30 flags are placed on three bridges in Oil City – Veterans Memorial Bridge, the Spc. Jonathan R. Kephart Memorial Bridge (formerly known as Petroleum Street Bridge) and the White Bridge. Flags are also placed on about 30 lightpoles in Oil City.

The Legion does this as a way to honor veterans, Bowers said.

“We are here to serve veterans,” he said.

Bowers said the Legion’s flag fund is depleted, and the post is looking for help.

“The only way to keep flags on the bridges next year is with help from the community,” Bowers said. He added that some of the flagpoles will also probably need replaced.

Bowers said the Legion has had a program to put American flags on the bridges and light posts in Oil City for longer than the 30 years he has been a member of the post.

The commander said the Legion overhauled the flag program shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bowers said he designed cast aluminum flag holders that the Legion was able to have fabricated at cost. The post also received five-foot flagpoles made of one-inch tube from Greenville Tube, he said.

With the flagpoles and holders in hand, the Legion raised money for its flag fund to buy the flags shortly after 9/11, Bowers said.

“The public was fantastic. The first round of donations after 9/11, when we were finally able to get the flags to put up, we had enough raised to get flags put up until last year. Some donations have come in over the years since 9/11,” Bowers said.

Bowers said the donations for flags were made in memory of or dedicated to someone by the donors. The names of all those who donate to the flag fund and those they have dedicated donations to appear on the post’s website.

“All of the money donated to the flag fund goes to flags, none of it goes to the post,” Bowers said.

The post bought the flags to put on the bridge last year, Bowers said. This year, with COVID-19, the Legion hasn’t been able to hold events in its hall or sell buddy poppies to raise money.

The Legion usually sells poppies twice a year at Walmart, Bowers said.

“The only money we have coming in is from membership dues and those go to pay for the building,” Bowers said.

Bowers said the Legion supports a number of volunteer programs that help veterans as well as a number of programs for children, including a baseball team.

“We have always done very well and the community is very generous,” Bowers said. “We are able to take care of our veterans’ programs and children’s programs from the sale of the buddy poppies.”