By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — For more than 10 years, Hiller’s True Value has worked in advance of every Fourth of July to blanket the community in American flags. The tradition has grown since its inception, said Hiller’s True Value owner Phil Hiller. Initially, Hiller said, just he and his family distributed about 3,000 flags to lawns surrounding their store. Now over 200 volunteers help cover the city of Marshfield as well as multiple surrounding communities with over 12,000 total American flags.
Hiller said that he got the flag-planting concept from a True Value store in the Milwaukee area. He said that though the idea to plant the flags was borrowed from another store, Hiller’s has put its own spin on the project. Each flag is accompanied with a message that thanks God for “the freedom He has given us.” The message also thanks active and former military personnel that fought or currently fight to protect the freedom that Americans hold dear.
“The whole idea around it was that we really wanted to honor the veterans or the fighting folks right now that (are) retaining our freedom,” Hiller said.
As the tradition grew, so did community interest, and people began to volunteer their time to put flags in yards on the Sunday prior to July 4. Hiller said the community response to planting the flags “has always been good” and added that businesses and individuals regularly donate money towards the project. The cost of the flags this year was about $7,000.
Hiller’s also organizes a meal for all of the volunteers that plant flags. This year the Buck-A-Neer Supper Club helped provide food, and Opportunity Development Centers Inc. made cookies for the meal.
“We’ve always felt if these volunteers are going to do something for us, we’re going to make it worth their while,” Hiller said.
Once the flags are placed, Hiller said, they belong to the property owner. Because of this, Hiller’s does not go back out to collect the flags. It is up to the property owner’s discretion to decide how long to leave the flag planted.