Stars for Our Troops reuse retired flags to honor those who served

Volunteers Loretta Spalding, front left, Marion Jordan and Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice executive director Sara Beil, and volunteer coordinator Jenna Restivo, back row, volunteer Sally Shafer and Lesa Thompson, the volunteer coordinator, work hard to give old flags a new purpose.

Volunteers from Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice are transforming pieces from retired American flags into special messages for military, veterans and first responders. 

Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice partnered with Stars for Our Troops in an initiative that collects retired 3-inch by 5-inch American flags to repurpose its stars with a note that is presented to active duty military, veterans and first responders as a token of appreciation for their sacrifices. 

Since its founding in 2010, thousands of these little star-studded notes have been lovingly fashioned by a wide range of volunteers around the nation.

"They are being created by Boy and Girl Scouts, fraternal and military organizations, nursing homes, community service projects, and now our hospice agency," said Sara Beil, the executive director of Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice.

An embroidered star from the flag is presented with a note that says, "I am part of our American flag that has flown over the U.S.A. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that you are not forgotten."

According to the American Flag Code, "the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way." 

Stars for Our Troops provides a respectful and meaningful option of repurposing the flag by gifting service men and women, veterans and first responders with a tangible reminder of why they chose to serve.

"As for the remnants of the flag, we will work with organizations that will continue to honor them and dispose of them respectfully," Beil added.

Donations of retired American flags are welcome at Wuesthoff Brevard Hospice at 8060 Spyglass Hill Road in Viera, or at the Inpatient Unit at 661 Eyster Blvd. in Rockledge. Several flag drop-off boxes also will soon be installed throughout the county.

To volunteer, call 321-253-2222.