Army-Navy Club keeps flag flying high on US 80 bridge

Published 7:54 pm Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Flag Day is annually celebrated June 14th to commemorate the 1777 adoption of the flag of the United States.

President Woodrow Wilson established Flag Day in 1916, and President Harry S. Truman designated the date as an official holiday in 1949.

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In Vicksburg, the flag can be seen every day flying high on the Highway 80 bridge over the Mississippi River, and for many it functions as a marker welcoming them back into Vicksburg when they’ve been away.

The flag began flying there on April 13, 1994.

“The idea of having a flag fly on the bridge was that of Mrs. Blanche Millsaps of Vicksburg,” Lewis Decell, the chairman of the Army-Navy Club Flag, said. “Blanche called the project her dream, but always refused total credit for the project, citing the donations and help of many citizens and friends. She maintained a scrapbook and noted that she hoped that the scrapbook would never be complete, because she wanted the idea to continue.”

When Millsaps fell ill in 2011, Decell met with her and offered to have the Army-Navy Club of Vicksburg continue on the project. The club hadn’t previously done a community project but was excited by the prospect of helping with Millsaps’ cause. Millsaps, who died June 2, 2011, was glad to see that the program would continue on.

Today, a new flag goes up every three months, with citizens donating to purchase the new flag to fly in honor of someone of their choosing.

Decell wants to make it clear the flag program is not limited to veterans, and is open to anyone.

“The flag program is not just for veterans to honor someone with a flag, or just make a memorial to someone who’s dead by raising the flag,” Decell explained. “They are for anybody who would like to display one in memoriam to somebody, or to honor somebody who’s living.”

Decell felt this was a special way to honor someone.

“It’s a patriotic way to remember someone, but the American flag is more than just patriotic,” Decell said. “It’s a symbol of all the things that have made America great. Not just war things that have happened, but the life that is lived in the United States. To honor someone with the flag, to me, is more significant than a vase full of flowers. It has more meaning to it. It’s more than just a wartime thing.”

The Army-Navy Club is a non-profit organization so donations are tax-deductible. In addition to the flag program, donations of any amount are accepted by the club. Those interested in making a donation or have interest in the flag program, can reach the Army-Navy Club at 601-529-1455.