‘You’ve Been Flagged’: Blue Star Mothers Brings Unique Recognition to Veterans

133
Trenton Wills, Christy Wills, Lou Nordin, Marv Waggoner, Brenda Saporito, Skyla Govier and Karen Hert following the Blue Star Mothers of Kinzua's "flagging" of Waggoner's yard. The group puts out a display of flags and signs in nominated veteran or active duty members' yards as a way to show appreciation for their service. Waggoner was in the U.S. Navy. Photo by Brian Hagberg.

WARREN, Pa. – Veterans and children of active duty service members across Warren County have been seeing strange phenomena appear in their front yards.

A mass of miniature U.S. flags suddenly appear for a few days, then move on to another yard.

The phenomenon isn’t actually all that strange. The “flagging” is the latest effort by the Blue Star Mothers of Kinzua to recognize the service and sacrifice of those who are or have served in the U.S. military.

“We’ve been doing this since April and will be going through . . . Veteran’s Day,” Blue Star Mothers member Brenda Saporito said.

The group accepts nominations for yards to be flagged, either through Facebook, phone at 814-230-0804 or via email at [email protected], then places the flags in the yard and comes to pick them up a week later.

With a few exceptions, those being flagged aren’t aware they’ve been nominated.

“(They) nominate and we come out and put flags in the yards,” Saporito said. “A lot of it is anonymous, but we do have a letter that we leave in their door.”

So far, the group has flagged 66 yards throughout Warren County.

On Aug. 14, Blue Star Mothers was at the home of Navy veteran Marv Waggoner. He knew the group was coming and came out to thank them for the recognition.

“It’s really thoughtful because it shows they still remember,” Waggoner said.

The schedule is already full for the rest of August, but Saporito said they are still accepting nominations for September, October and November.

“If you want to nominate someone, please reach out as soon as possible so we can get everyone done before November,” Saporito said.

The flagging also serves as a fundraiser as there is a $25 fee for each yard. The funds help support other projects the group does for service members throughout the year.

“We send care packages out to our deployed troops, we just had one in July,” Blue Star Mothers of Kinzua President Skyla Govier said. “We sent packages to 16 different countries and we sent 215 care packages. We do that throughout the year. If we have someone reach out because their service member is struggling we’ll send out a few care packages so they can share as well. We do a homeless project where we pack up bags with shoes and clothes and snacks to give out to the homeless veterans that we have in the area.”

Anyone interested in joining the group can attend one of the monthly meetings, held at 9 a.m. on the fourth Saturday of the month at the First Presbyterian Church in North Warren, or reach out to the group’s Facebook page for more information.

“We always have projects and we are welcome to any ideas that anybody might have as well,” Govier said.

“This is very near and dear to our hearts,” Saporito added. “We have children who are deployed and we try to keep everybody going and support (them).”