By Traci Chapman
September is a busy month for Mustang American Legion Post 353, as they remember one of the country’s darkest times and work to keep the spark of patriotism alive amid the kind of pandemic unseen by most people now living.
“This is really a challenging time – due to the COVID-19 pandemic our post meeting gatherings have been postponed until further notice – but we’re hoping we all can do our part to stop the spread of this virus,” Post Adjutant Don Kuntze said.
While regular meetings have been sidelined – and special events sponsored by the group have changed to accommodate the dangers posed by the novel coronavirus – members continue to serve the community, with the Post 353 honor guard continuing to participate in military funerals and members working the intake table at a recent community blood drive.
It also meant that Legionnaires gathered Saturday to put up the Avenue of Flags, which would remain flying along state Highway 152 from Morgan Road west to Cemetery Road and along Mustang Road from state Highway 152 north to SW 59th Street through Sept. 20, Post Historian John Bishop said.
“We put the flags up for VJ Day and then keep them up to recognize Patriot Day and POW/MIA recognition day,” he said.
Members also post the colors along those routes each July in honor of Independence Day but 2020 and the challenges COVID-19 brought with it changed the practice. This year members put the flags up in April, leaving them in place through the July holiday.
“We get so much positive feedback on the Avenue of Flags each year that we thought posting the colors now and keeping them up through the July holiday would be a contribution we could make to reminding everyone – we are Americans, we can make it through this together,” Bishop said at that time. “The plan is to fly these flags continually until July 6th to celebrate our nation – everyday, but especially now with our pandemic and the changes it has brought to each and every one of us.”
A special project last year teamed Mustang Legionnaires with city of Mustang, Mustang Public School District and Positive Posse – an effort that raised funds to replace many of the 135 individual symbols comprising the Avenue of Flags. The program, which began in 2008, is hard on flags punished by sun and win, rain and heat. The fundraising effort was important because it got the community involved, Kuntze said.
“Although American Legion Post 353 serves as the custodian of the resources, the Avenue of Flags belongs to the community of Mustang,” he said. “We want everyone who looks at the flags on our streets to have ownership and be able to say, ‘That’s our flag.’”
Membership in American Legion Post 353 is open to former and current active duty personnel. The group historically meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at Mustang Senior Center, located on the north end of Town Center; while there has been some discussion about online meetings, nothing was confirmed as of press time, members said. More information is available on the Post’s Facebook page or its website, located at https://www.mustangpost353.org/.