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By Carissa Sitki
The Village of Kampsville has received a generous gift from Robert and Kim Parmenter, a homemade drop box that will serve as a receptacle for old, tattered American flags that need to be retired.
The drop box, which was made using an old mailbox, was graciously donated by the Parmenters to the Kampsville American Legion Post 1083 as a way to give back to the community. The patriotic mailbox is located just outside of the Legion building at 320 South Broadway in Kampsville.
Robert said that he stumbled across a mailbox in the back of a Village shed, adding that it had been in there for a number of years and was in rough shape. “I’d been wanting to do a drop box up at the Legion for awhile,” said Robert. “When I saw that old mailbox, I said, ‘I know what that’ll be good for.’”
Village workers, Shawn Shewmake and Simon Taylor, helped by removing the mailbox from the shed, according to Robert. Once the box was in his possession, Robert began cleaning it up and discovered that it was made in St. Louis in 1959 and that the spout was replaced in 1964.
Using 12 cans of red, white, and blue spray paint, Robert gave the box a bold flag design and Kim used her Cricut cutting device to create the lettering to adorn the outside of the box. According to the couple, the whole project only took three days. “I just started painting and taping and next thing we know, it’s finished,” said Robert. “I can’t believe how [good] it turned out.”
A Veteran himself, this project hits particularly close to home for Robert who served in the United States Army for 14 years (four years active duty and 10 years in the reserves). “I’m funny about the flag, when I was in the Army, I learned all about it, the meaning behind the stars and the stripes,” he said. “Anything I’m involved with, I want to be done right. Flags are never supposed to touch the ground and they’re supposed to be burned, never thrown in a wastebasket. If a flag gets thrown away, it’ll end up in a landfill, which is terrible.”
Prior to the Parmenter’s project, there was not a physical drop box for flags that reach the end of their lives. “There’s not a drop box anywhere else, that I know of,” said Robert. “Most people just turn them into the Legion.”
The box will make it quick and easy to drop the flags off without having to go inside the Legion, according to Robert.
Once the box gets full, the flags will be removed and stored by the Legion until they can be properly retired in a ceremonial burning. Robert hopes to organize a burning soon, along with a 21-gun salute, citing that it’s something that has not happened for a while in Kampsville. “It’s been years since a flag disposal ceremony has been done,” said Robert.
Kampsville Mayor Wade Gibson shared his gratitude to the Parmenters in a Facebook post, stating, “Robert and Kim, this is an awesome idea for the Village and surrounding communities. Thank you both very much.”
The box will remain up year-round for the public to access and use. Robert and Kim invite folks to bring their worn American flags to the location. “Anyone who has a flag that’s getting tattered, or frayed, can come by and drop it in the box,” said Robert. “We’ll make sure it gets properly disposed of.”