No. 889



In 1994 I joined the Conway Noon Lions Club. Looking back, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made because it has given me the opportunity to be of service in our community.
As you may know, Lions International is the largest service organization in the world, thanks to the 1.3 million members in 44,000 clubs in more than 200 countries. Our motto is “We Serve” and our primary mission is the help the blind and visually impaired. Locally, we provide more than 100 pairs of eyeglasses to needy children and adults in our community. We also support a number of other local projects, like giving a $1,000 scholarship to a graduating senior from each of our three area high schools and the Bookcase for Every Child project.
We are an all-volunteer organization, and to raise the funds to support these and other projects, we have three major fundraisers each year. We have an annual Golf Tournament, a basketball show that features the Harlem Ambassadors and our own Toad Suck Lions, and also a fundraiser that I want to tell you about called The Patriot Project. Over the past several years, our members have secured business sponsors who will allow us to place a very attractive base on their building with a bracket to hold a large three-foot by five-foot U.S. flag, and we fly these flags 10 times each year. We fly about 145 flags on various businesses all across our community.
We fly the flags on Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day, 9/11 Remembrance Day and, in even-numbered years, on Election Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Pearl Harbor Day. The cost of this service, which is arranged by subscription, is $50 each year. You can’t even buy the flag, mounting bracket and the pole for that, so the first year we don’t earn anything, but do in following years. I am here to tell you that it is impressive to drive downtown and see all those American flags fluttering in the breeze.
To me, there are few things that are more beautiful than the American flag, not so much because of the stars and stripes but what our flag represents. The flag represents “freedom” that was bought and paid for by the lives and blood of countless Americans over the years since we gained our independence. It disturbs me when I see someone not respect our flag, or worse still to burn or mutilate it in some way. However, that is their right, and as I heard the late Earl Nightingale say one time, “We live in America, where a person has a right to be just as wrong as he wants to be.”
It has been my privilege since we started this project to be a Lion who puts the flags out and takes them down on the holidays and observances that I mentioned earlier. Some days we put them out and take them down the same day and occasionally, if the times are scheduled close together, we leave them out for several days. I have shared this with you for a couple of reasons, in addition to the fact that I am patriotic. If you live here in my community, own a business, and would like to be a part of this project, we would love to be of service. You may contact me or go to our website:
Here is the other reason. I suspect that almost every city and town where my column runs also has a Lions Club or other service club that may have an interest. If so, let us know. We would be honored to help.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)