Janesville44.8°

Patriots go up, flags come down

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Catherine W. Idzerda
September 19, 2010
— Mike Johnson spends a lot of his time going up and down ladders for his country.

Johnson, a veteran of combat in the Vietnam war, joined a handful other of others Saturday morning for an annual fall task: Taking down the American flags that line the city’s main streets.


It’s a job that had Johnson running a scary-looking wooden extension ladder up the metal street poles to the height of the flag braces.


“He’s the second-story man,” said Bob Maves, fellow veteran, whose job was to hold the ladder. “I don’t go up there.”


Johnson and Maves were on the crew working on Parker Drive, while others were out on Milton Avenue, Racine Street and elsewhere.


Johnson and Maves together tried to figure out how many flags the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Janesville Patriotic Society put up and take down every year.


The answer, after much muttered calculation, was, “a bunch.”


“Let’s see, we’ve got 31 on Beloit Avenue and 19 on Center,” Johnson said. “And then maybe 59 on Milton? And about 20 on Parker.”


Then there’s Court Street, Racine Street and a variety of locations, Maves noted.


“They go up every spring sometime before Memorial Day and come down sometime after Labor Day,” Maves said.


Both men donate their time to this task, and a variety of other veterans’ events; they also were in the color guard at Friday’s POW/MIA Day remembrance ceremony.


They like to see the flags flying on the main streets of their hometown.


“It’s just the patriotic thing to do,” Maves said.



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