ELLINWOOD — Sometimes it is the extra special lengths a few go to that makes a difference for many, providing a moment during parades to honor veterans and to provide an educational opportunity. The Ellinwood American Legion provides such a moment with its flag trailer.
The flags include the original 13 stars and stripes signifying the original states. As each state was added, a star was added to the U.S. flag, signifying the addition of a new state to the union, up to the current number of 50. All of the flags approved by Congress are flown. In addition, the state flags, the service flags, and the Prisoner Of War flags are all displayed.
The "idea came from Leland Mall in the late 1980s," said Ellinwood resident Charlie Carmin. "He was a fantastic individual, and I respected him.
Mall, who has since passed away, drew up the plans for the trailer and insisted to doubters that the six trailers would work and could turn the corner. Mall was right, and the six trailers turn the corner during parades each year.
His designs showed them how it would work, said Carmin.
Carmin and Mall worked for two years in the evenings and weekends to complete the project, at of a cost of about $1200. The funds were donated by the Ellinwood American Legion.
The trailers were made from salvage oil field pipes. Giving the credit to Mall, Carmin said he was just a helper.
Then, all of the flags had to be collected, which included contacting all 50 states.
"It’s pretty impressive really," said Carmin.
Both Carmin and Mall were in the military. Carmin served in the Marines in North China, Korea, Vietnam and various other skirmishes such as the Bay of Pigs. Mall was a Merchant Marine in World War II and Korea, where he was wounded.
The trailers have been a hit in local communities. The response has all been good, said the veteran.
"The first place we went was a parade in Topeka," said Carmin. Now, the flags are taken to local communities by Ellinwood volunteers.
"We take them to parades in Hoisington, Ellinwood, Holyrood, Wilson and Lyons for no charge, except that the city has to provide a front loader to unload the flags," said Carmin.
"It takes about four volunteers," he said. Volunteers have to hang the approximately 83 flags on the poles, and according to Carmin is a lot of work. Also, lots of maintenance and upkeep are required on the old oilfield pipes.
The six trailers are kept stacked until they are needed.
In addition, posts were added to the fence around the Ellinwood Legion, so that the flags could be displayed on Memorial Day and Flag Day.