2013-06-21 / Community

Ed Shevlin’s Flag Campaign

By Dan Guarino


On Saturday, June 22nd, Ed Shevlin will be collecting worn out flags at Memorial Circle on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 120th and Beach 121st Streets in Rockaway Park from 3 to 5 p.m. “Anyone wishing to properly retire an American flag can drop it off with me,” he says. Photo by Dennis Coss On Saturday, June 22nd, Ed Shevlin will be collecting worn out flags at Memorial Circle on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 120th and Beach 121st Streets in Rockaway Park from 3 to 5 p.m. “Anyone wishing to properly retire an American flag can drop it off with me,” he says. Photo by Dennis Coss This year Rockaway Sanitation worker Ed Shevlin decided to honor Flag Day, Friday, June 14th, in a whole new way.

“When I went out on my route, I was thinking I would see flags in the garbage. We get them every day.”

That day he decided to do something about it.

“I took a picture of a flag in the hopper.” He explained it was a small flag, the kind one might give to a child at a parade.

“I put the photo up on Facebook,” he said, and announced his intention to collect and properly dispose of any flag anyone was throwing away.

And, Shevlin noted, on Saturday, June 22nd, “I will be collecting flags in the Memorial Circle between 3 and 5 p.m. Anyone wishing to properly retire an American flag can drop it off with me at that time.”

Memorial Circle is located on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 120th and Beach 121st Streets in Belle Harbor.

He is also willing to drive anywhere in the city to pick up flags that have seen their day.

“Wherever people have flags, I am willing to go,” said Shevlin.

In one day he drove over to pick up a flag in Gerritsen Beach, and just before that had gone to Middle Village and picked up six flags.

Less than a week after he started, he had collected some 20 flags.

“For the past 20 years I have been saving American flags from the garbage while at work. This past Flag Day I decided to expand my campaign to the five boroughs and Nassau County.”

Anyone interested in more information can go to his “Ed Shevlin” Facebook page.

The discarded flags are brought to the U.S, Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point to be to be disposed of properly and honorably.

Among the supporters of his flag campaign, Shevlin notes, “I have had a lot of interest from the Scouts.”

In fact, Scoutmaster Bill Scanlan and the Cub Scouts of Pack 147 here in Rockaway will join him at the Memorial Circle for the flag collection on Saturday.

Said Scanlan, "This is a great opportunity for the boys to learn civic responsibility and to help someone who has done so much to help Rockaway."

Shevlin, or “Shevy”, is one of the NYC Department of Sanitation members who worked tirelessly in Rockaway after Hurricane Sandy.

He is also well known for his charitable works. He has gone cross country on his motorcycle to raise money for charities such as juvenile diabetes.

Among other things, he has won an Irish Fulbright Commission scholarship, and was honored with the prestigious Thomas Manton Award and declared NYC Irish Man of the Year by the New York City Council.

Word of Shevlin’s efforts to honor discarded American flags has spread far and wide.

A feature on his campaign on the website Irish Central elicited comments like, “Ed Shelvin ... You are one good man. Thank you. God Bless the USA” and “The American flag deserves respect, as do flags that represents a people's hope, dreams and aspirations. The fellow is right to be disgusted when it is thrown out with the trash.”

The idea of establishing a national Flag Day was introduced by Bernard J. Cigrand, a 19-year old teacher from Waubeka, Wisconsin, in 1885, “to inspire…" to inspire all Americans in the real meaning and majesty of our flag." June 14th, 1777 was the date the U.S originally adopted its national flag.

In 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed legislation to officially designate that date as Flag Day.

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