A group of veterans is reaching out to schools to teach kids about the American flag.
If a school has a torn or tattered flag, members of VFW post 360 in Mishawaka will come in to retire it and bring a new one to replace it.
The program started three years ago and is growing in popularity.
"We buy those flags out of pocket. And then we bring them in, explain the importance of the American flag as a symbol for our country for unity, for honor, for peace for justice," said Dave Kriegle, post 360 member.
Several local companies sponsor the program so the VFW can continue to purchase the flags. They’re hoping to get the word out so more schools will take advantage of it and more kids will become educated about the stars and stripes. They learn about things like what the colors mean as well as how to fold and display it.
"Our country has to be cohesive. You're an American first. We have so many groups that have come to this country, the Irish, the Italians, Spanish. We are all different but we all have to join under a flag as one group so we can be powerful and help one another out,” Kriegle said.
"This is very personal to me because I feel that through this program we as a country can heal. Through our kids our country can be sewn back together,” said Michael Wells, post 360 member. "There's a whole generation of children coming up that if they're not military children, they don't understand what the flag truly means, they don't know.
Wells says many people don't know proper flag etiquette. He's even heard of someone rolling a flag into a ball and putting it in the trash. All of the flags collected are eventually burned by the VFW.
“With a short lesson of how to fold the flag and how to properly take care of it, they can take that home if they have an American flag and teach their parents,” Wells said.
"I did notice our flag was getting pretty old and I learned some things that I didn't know," said Faith Love, a fourth grade student from Marquette Primary Montessori Academy in South Bend.
Wells says he hopes the program also shows veterans that they have a place and people to turn to if they need help.
To learn more about the program or to make a donation you can contact VFW post 360 at (574) 255-4125.