Penitentiary club partners with veterans group to get new flag pole

Penitentiary club partners with veterans group to get new flag pole




Rachel Kilcoin, Communications Manager/          

Laura Strimple, Chief of Staff/


Penitentiary club partners with veterans group to get new flag pole


November 22, 2019 (Lincoln, Neb.) -- Several years in the making, members of the Veterans Club at the Nebraska State Penitentiary are saluting a new flag. A dedication ceremony was held just after Veterans Day to commemorate the addition of the new flag and pole, courtesy of the Nebraska American Legion Auxiliary.

“I appreciate the dedication of the men in the Veterans Club,” said NSP Warden Michele Wilhelm. “We could not have done this without their efforts as well as the commitment from the auxiliary to make this happen.”

Since 2003, members of the Veterans Club have been making memorial poppy flowers and donating them to the American Legion Auxiliary. The poppies symbolize the sacrifice of services by veterans. In turn, the local auxiliary sells the flowers to a national catalog store and to local units which distribute them. Proceeds raised by the distribution of poppies help fund various activities.

Normally, veterans would receive five cents for each poppy made. Veterans at NSP have donated their poppies at no expense. So far, they have created more than 310,000. In fact, they are the largest group producer of poppies for the auxiliary.

“The NSP Veterans Club does a marvelous job,” noted Lisa Moore, American Legion Auxiliary department secretary. “I’m extremely proud of this program. Not a lot of auxiliaries across the nation have a program like this.”

Moore estimates that the group donates an average of $6,000 poppies per month, with each poppy raising around $3 a piece. Money raised goes toward scholarships for children, veterans’ homes, VA medical centers and to assist the homeless.

“Without them, we would fall short every year of what the units order from us,” said Moore. “It has a big impact.”

In June 2017, when Moore heard that the Veterans Club was trying to acquire a flagpole, she approached the Auxiliary Advisory Board with a proposal to help fund it. The board voted unanimously to donate to the group what they normally would have been paid for the poppies.

“As an American Legion Auxiliary, we want whatever our veterans want,” said Moore. “They did it. They got this for themselves. They have worked really hard and to see it come around, and my heart just goes out to these guys.”

With the installation complete, the Veterans Club has assigned two-man details to raise and lower the flag each day.

“This has been three years in the making,” said Veterans Club Commander Daniel Lathrop. “We are so thankful for it.”

“They should be so proud of themselves,” added Elizabeth Paes, auxiliary president.  “I’m so impressed with all they’ve done here.”

The next project for the Veterans Club is to install a plaque beneath the flagpole. The auxiliary has already agreed to set aside funds for the plaque, as club members continue creating poppies for distribution.

“The men take a lot of pride in making the poppies, knowing that they are also helping other veterans,” said Warden Wilhelm. “Theirs is a significant contribution.”