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Veterans raise $1,200 for a symbol of freedom to fill the skies
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Members of Grant-Reeves Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7720 of Cornelia raise an American flag during a dedication ceremony in Alto, Saturday, June 30, 2018, at Anderson Village along Tommy Irvin Parkway. - photo by David Barnes

Tom Partington and a group of fellow veterans called “Partington’s Patriots” gather each Thursday at Alpine Stamp & Coin at Anderson Village in Alto, just five minutes past Jaemor Farms.

From now on when they gather, they’ll be able to look outside toward the road and see a large, 20-by-38 foot American flag waving in the wind. And it’s because of Partington, Joe Treadway and the rest of the community that passers-by will get to see it, too.

“Today we’re not just honoring a flag,” said Bill Miles, Army veteran and post commander at Grant-Reeves Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7720. “It’s dyed fabric and thread. Instead, we’re pausing to honor everything this iconic symbol represents.”

A crowd of about 50 people gathered at Anderson Village on Saturday, June 30, to watch as the flag was raised for the first time. Veterans, families and children were there with their hands on their hearts as the national anthem was sung and a 21-gun salute was performed.

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Members of Grant-Reeves Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7720 of Cornelia salute during a dedication ceremony in Alto, Saturday, June 30, 2018, at Anderson Village along Tommy Irvin Parkway. - photo by David Barnes
Darlene Terrell, who was there with her children, Katie and Joey Jr., was emotional during the ceremony. At one point, she had to wipe tears from her eyes.

Her husband, the sheriff of Habersham County, Joey Terrell, was there, too.

“We have a love for the armed forces,” Darlene Terrell said. “Just the sacrifices that have been made for our country, and the lack of respect, it seems, in this country for those men and women that have sacrificed. Even if they didn’t lose their lives, they’ve sacrificed so much.”

That was where the idea for the flag originated. Treadway, an Army veteran that served four years, wanted to do something that showed he, along with other veterans and residents in the area, care about the American flag.

“It’s not about us,” Treadway said. “It’s about everybody driving up and down this road. That’s the reason we went into the military and that’s the reason some of us didn’t come back. It ain’t about us.”

So he bought an old light pole that was being used at Habersham Central High School’s football field, but was removed during recent renovations. Next, Partington’s Patriots had to gather enough money to purchase the flag and concrete to secure the pole in the ground.

“We started gathering change and just starting building it up,” said Partington, who served in the Army for three years. “After two months of doing nothing but putting money in a jar, I said ‘Hell, I’ll start doing something.’”

Partington went from business to business at Anderson Village collecting money. He asked people at his church, too. He said he was surprised people were so willing to help out.

“I was really doubtful I could get anything, but it’s amazing how many people thought I was an honest guy or something,” Partington said with a laugh.

He was able to raise about $1,200 to helped cover the cost of everything.

“When I saw the flag go up, it just touched me inside and I thought it’s just a wonderful thing to happen in a free country,” Partington said.

Most of the veterans that raised money wanted to remain anonymous, but they were there at the ceremony and received a round of applause from the crowd for their service to the country and help in bringing a piece of patriotism to Habersham.

“There’s no other flag in this world more respected and known,” Miles said. “It will never go out of style as long as Americans cherish their freedom and are willing to fight and defend it.”

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