Service flags added downtown

Hank and Margie Gamel plant the flag of the U.S. Air Force in a bracket in the 100 block of East Sangamon Avenue last week. It was one of several service flags added to downtown.

RANTOUL — The star spangled banner hangs prominently from a number of poles in downtown Rantoul, thanks to a joint effort by a downtown beautification committee and the village of Rantoul. Now, flags of the various branches of the armed forces have been added.

The first of several downtown mini murals was also unveiled.

The flags were unfurled in the 100 block of East Sangamon Avenue — fittingly on the eve of Independence Day. As thunder boomed — as if in assent — while an approaching storm neared, several local veterans of the armed services placed the flags in their brackets.

Representing the Marines were David Willard and Jim Johnson, while Gary Wilson did the honors for the Army.

Hank and Margie Gamel added the flag of the Air Force, and Tim Robinson placed the flag of the Navy.

No representative from the Coast Guard was available, so Mayor Chuck Smith did the honors.

Loise Haines of the beautification committee thanked everyone involved. She said money for the flags was raised from an April talent show held at Rantoul Township High School. The village of Rantoul assisted with the costs.

Also added to the west side of the thrift store building, owned by Haines at the corner of Sangamon and Tanner streets, is the first mini mural created by the RTHS art department. It includes the image of an eagle clutching an American flag.

“We wanted an eagle because that’s what used to be there,” Haines said. “In 1976, the high school art department painted an eagle (on that wall) and then somebody painted over it.”

Additional mini murals  will be added later.

The mini murals should not be confused with a larger mural that will grace the west wall of the Lindsey Lane Bridal building at the corner of Sangamon and Garrard streets. That mural is expected to be painted later this year.