FINDLAY — Community members from Toledo to Findlay are reaching out to help heal the wounds caused by recent destruction of American flags along North Main Street here.
Findlay Police report that six of the 13 American flags planted on poles along North Main were cut and damaged over the past few weeks.
Karl Kuhlman, a Findlay resident who owns Karl Kuhlman’s Body & Radiator Repair Inc. at 136 N. Main, purchased the flags for the community’s benefit.
“One of my neighbors, Nick Moser, and I buy, put up, and maintain the flags,” Mr. Kuhlman said. “We started doing this over 30 years ago.”
He said the vandalism started about three weeks ago. Someone cut the flags completely off of their poles.
“It’s very disgusting to me that people would desecrate the flag — especially in Flag City, USA,” Mr. Kuhlman said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and I’m very proud of that.”
Mr. Kuhlman and Mr. Moser replaced the six vandalized flags last week.
“We’ve never bought the high-dollar flags because it’s money from our own pocket,” he said.
But Findlay likely will see new and improved flags soon, thanks to two small-business owners who have banded together.
Joe Stoll, the owner of Toledo Flags, said a friend sent a message to tell him about the flag vandalism, and he decided he needed to help.
“These flags are not cheap. This man was spending a good chunk of his money to buy these,” he said, and, as the owner of his own flag store, he decided to act.
He placed a can at the front of his shop at 4849 N. Summit St. in Point Place to collect donations to pay for new flags for Findlay. A sign placed on the can, he said, read, “Help our neighbors in Findlay.”
Thursday morning, Mr. Stoll received good news. He said the owner of Findlay’s Tuffy Tire & Auto Services, John Firestone, called him and placed an order for six flags.
Mr. Firestone, who called the vandalism a disgrace, said he knows Mr. Kuhlman.
“He used to own two body shops, and we did some work for him,” said Mr. Firestone, who has owned the Tuffy at 2026 Tiffin Ave. for 10 years.
“The community has been so supportive. This was something to do to give back,” he said. “Take care of the people who take care of you.”
He said that he and his wife, Rhonda, are patriotic, which is another reason they wanted to help.
“On Veteran’s Day, we give out 100 free oil changes to veterans.”
The flags that Mr. Firestone’s business bought were $40 each, or $240 total.
Mr. Stoll said those flags were made in the United States of nylon and are three feet by five feet.
However, Mr. Stoll did not just order six of those flags from his supplier. He ordered 13.
The money Mr. Stoll raises at his store will go toward the payment for the extra seven flags.
“There are 13 poles in the ground. I don’t want six of the flags to stand out as new,” Mr. Stoll said. “I want to make sure it looks nice and patriotic.”
Any leftover funds potentially will be used to contribute to a reward for anyone who provides police with information leading to the flag vandal’s — or vandals’ — arrest and conviction.
Contact Kathleen Ashcraft at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6050.