Scout program flies flags for fundraiser

Cortney Taylor possesses a flag once owned by her great-great grandfather that she wanted to fly at her family’s home. Once in their new home four years ago in the Cimarron Landing subdivision in Converse, an attempt was made to mount a flag bracket to their home.

It did not go well.

“We tried to drill holes in the wall, but it didn’t take. It just didn’t work,” Taylor said. “We had a neighbor who had a flag flying right out by the street. So we just went over, knocked on their door and asked them about it, and she gave me all the information.”

“Display Your Colors” is the name of the flag-flying program offered by Boy Scout Troop 239. For a $40 annual fee, Troop 239 scouts will place a 3-foot-by-5-foot American flag on a 10-foot pole in subscribers’ front yards on four federal holidays, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day, as well as Flag Day on June 14 and Patriot Day on Sept. 11.

Troop 239 Scoutmaster Frank Herring took over the troop in January 2018, with 12 boys making up the troop. Based in Live Oak, the troop includes scouts primarily from Converse, Live Oak and Universal City.

“The troop has grown quite a bit. We now have 30 scouts, and our flag program has just continued to get bigger, from 18 original customers to almost 300 now,” Herring said.

For Flag Day, Herring and a small crew met early on June 12, loaded hundreds of flags in Herring’s pickup and embarked on the flag-planting route.

The subdivisions of Cimarron Landing and Scheel Farms receive the vast majority of the flags. Other flags are flown in other areas, where the scouts live.

Herring said he educated his scouts about the program, flag etiquette, and how much fund-raising potential “Display Your Colors” offered.

“I introduced a fund to buy six canoes and a canoe trailer for our troop with this money,” he said. “So far we have accomplished buying the trailer, and now have enough money in the account to buy the six canoes.”

All funds collected go directly to Troop 239. The money is split 50-50 between the troop, in order to pay for troop supplies and equipment, and the scout who sold each subscription. The individual scout funds, logged by the troop treasurer, are only approved for scouting item purchases, such as camp costs, equipment or activities.

The scoutmaster’s son, Justin Herring, 15, a Veterans Memorial High School student, said the initial recruitment process was difficult, when only a few dozen homes were participating.

“It was hard in the beginning to get people to sign on,” Justin Herring said. “But once you start putting the flags up and people start seeing them, in uniform like this, everyone wants one.”

That is precisely what motivated Cimarron Landing subdivision resident Pamela Williamson-Wyllie to become involved.

“Shortly after I moved in three years ago, I noticed everybody had the flags up for the holidays,” Williamson-Wyllie said. “We have a neighborhood Facebook page and I went on … and asked, ‘Hey, how do I get one of those flags?’”

A professed “military brat” with a father who served in the U.S. Air Force for 27 years, her family lived on base, where flags fly from morning reveille to evening retreat, or 24 hours.

“Display Your Colors” is her family’s first venture into posting the flag during ceremonial holidays.

“We are on the first main street to the right when you come in, and there’s definitely a long line of flags,” she said. “They are nice to have out during the holidays like that.”

Scout Herring agrees.

“The six times throughout the year that we do it, it’s very nice for the neighborhood,” the scout said. “It really doesn’t take that much time, maybe an hour, hour-and-a-half max, for such a beautiful neighborhood scene to unfold.”

As a supporter of the scout troop and a neighbor to many of its members, Taylor said her family has recruited “Display Your Colors” participants on the subdivision’s close Facebook page.

“I tell them, ‘Look how beautiful it is, with just a few of us. Imagine what it would look like if everyone joined in,’” she said. “We have neighbors who just moved in in January. As a housewarming gift, we gifted them a year’s subscription.”

The flags, already retrieved from their weekend of flying, will next grace front yards July 3-6 for Independence Day.

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