Cruising down South Midlothian Parkway during the week leading up to the Fourth of July holiday, one might have noticed a multitude of flags that fly high along the road.
Every year, volunteers from the First Baptist Church of Midlothian help place 100 flags along the road in front of the church to celebrate America’s freedom and instill a sense of patriotism within the community. This tradition started five years ago, with the help of Barbara Ross and other volunteers.
“When I moved here six years ago, I was driving around one day, and I saw the Methodist Church,” Ross relayed. “They had flags all the way around it, and I thought, ‘How neat!’”
She asked one of the pastors at the church, at the time, if they could implement that same idea; he gladly agreed. They gathered neighbors to help attach the flags to the poles, along with a man who volunteered to dig holes for the flags.
It began with 20 flags, which soon grew as they added 35 more. Once the administration building was finished, they added nine more, and then 40 more after the student center building was completed. The flags now fly about five times a year, as they honor national holidays. Much of the tradition is credited to donated money.
The senior citizens serve as the main force behind putting the flags up and taking them down. Many other community members have since caught wind of the tradition and began volunteering to help them out, including juniors and seniors in high school who receive community service hours for their assistance. Usually, the team consists of about five to eight people, with five dependable men who lend a hand every time.
“It’s all done by people who just love America,” Ross emphasized. “[...] In fact, the other day, I had 15 people helping me put them out, and it took us 20 minutes.”
The entire process takes about 20 to 45 minutes on average. Volunteers begin to put them out about three days to a week before the Fourth of July. This year, due to Vacation Bible School, the flags will continue to fly until Friday, July 13.
“It takes longer to take them down because we have to roll them up and put a rubber band on them so we can store them,” Ross explained.
The church often receives a lot of positive feedback regarding the flags.
“We’ve only had one negative thing the last five years,” Ross said. “In fact, the pastor saw me Sunday morning, and he said, ‘Barbara, I’ve had a hundred people say the flags look beautiful. It does The Body [of the Church] good to hear those things.”
Ross reflected on what patriotism and the flags mean to her, as an American citizen.
“I love patriotism, I love America, I love the flags and the colors,” Ross said. “[...] I bleed red, white and blue.”
She added, “It means I live in a free country. I work and worship the God I love, in a wonderful town like Midlothian and a loving church, like this one. It’s just the freedom.”