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Veteran keeps American flag in Independence up through Memorial Day, but future uncertain

This flag, donated by Bill Coulter will remain up through the Memorial Day weekend. On Tuesday, the city will decide whether to reverse their decision to eliminate flags from flying on that pole, or if they will let the community privately fund its maintenance in the future.

Residents in Independence, Iowa are upset after the city voted last month to remove a staple in the community.

The American flag, on 6th Ave SW next to Highway 20, has been around for more than a decade, but Mayor Bonita Davis told CBS2/FOX 28 News it was first removed because maintenance costs became too expensive.

That decision came from a city council meeting in late April. The city said it costs hundreds of dollars to replace the flag every couple of months because of damage from the wind. Also, putting lighting on the flag was another expense they said they could no longer provide.

Yet, veterans in the community said the symbol of that flag should always be considered priceless.

“This flag is extremely important to me and I just wanted it back by Memorial Day," said Bill Coulter.

Coulter is a Korean War Veteran, and he gets up every morning to look at the American flag from his home and in the distance.

“And when it disappeared, I couldn’t imagine it," he said.

For more than a decade, it was the pride of Independence and a symbol to all who have laid down their lives for freedom.

Coulter said his family in particular understood that sacrifice.

“Two [of us] in World War II, two of us in Korea, and one of us in Iraq in Afghanistan," he said. "To us, this flag is the ultimate."

“We just feel that because it’s along the interstate, Highway 20, it signifies that Independence, Iowa is here on the map and they support the United States of America," said Russell Kress, the Post 30 Commander of the American Legion.

Even though city leaders voted to take the flag down, Coulter could not give up.

"So I ordered a flag," he said.

He spent $260 dollars on a flag in order to fly old glory for Memorial Day. With the help of the mayor and city manager, the flag went up on Friday.

“I have a second flag as a back up that one of my neighbors up here personally bought," said Coulter.

Now, veteran organizations and others in the community are raising money to pay for future flags.

“We want to contribute enough to keep that flag flying," said Kress.

Some said it should not be up to veterans to keep the flag in the air, but Coulter said it is a sacrifice worth making for the sacrifices it represents.

“We are going to try and raise enough money, so this will always be privately funded," he said. "The city will have no expense with it.”

The flag Coulter donated will be up through the Memorial Day weekend. On Tuesday, the city will decide whether to reverse their decision to eliminate flags from flying on that pole, or if they will let the community privately fund its maintenance in the future.

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