Patriotism on display for Fourth

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 6, 2009

The flags at the corner of West and Wells streets in Wesson makea large “L” shape – wide enough to walk through when the wind isn’tblowing.

It was the inspiration of their son Tony Mullins that causedBilly Mullins and his grandson Ruston Ladner from Brandon to getout in the July heat to put 100 American flags in their yard.

“Tony teaches in Louisiana, and last year he put 500 flags up,”said Frances Mullins of her son, who is a teacher, coach andmusician. “This year his cross-country team wanted to make it afundraiser. So we did it because he wanted us to do it up heretoo.”

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So Billy and Frances went to Perkins Hardware and got the pipelengths cut for the flags and began the project.

And now the Mullins, who are a patriotic family, have a total of900 flags up between Louisiana and Mississippi, Frances said. Tonyhas 800 this year.

“We just wanted to start something in Wesson,” Billy said.”Because Wesson never would have had something like this if wehadn’t done it.”

Billy Mullins is an Army veteran, and Frances said it wasimportant to their family that people stop to think about those whoare offering their lives as a sacrifice to protect the freedomsAmericans enjoy.

“This is a time to think about our servicemen, because they giveus a lot of freedoms,” she said.

And each year, the Mullinses hope to add a few more flags, sothat hopefully one day the large field on the corner behind theirhouse will be filled with flags.

“Tony said he’d bring some over here next year,” Frances Mullinssaid.

Already there are people driving by to view the patrioticdisplay, however. The couple said there have been a lot of carsdriving by that they don’t usually see on their street.

“Within two or three hours of getting them up, we had peoplestopping to take pictures,” Billy Mullins said.

And the Mullinses said they may add other facets to the displayin the future, like potentially putting the names of local soldierson them in a show of support or as a memorial.

“Some places put a soldier on there, and we may do that,” saidFrances. “We have a lot of soldiers around here.”

The next big project for the Mullinses, who are in their 70s,will be to take down all 100 flags and roll them up and storethem.

“You have to be very careful with them, and treat them a certainway,” said Billy. “And when they start to fade, we’ll order newones.”

The flags won’t just fly on the Fourth, the Mullinses said.They’ll stay up about a week after the Fourth, and then they’llcome back for important patriotic holidays like Veterans Day andMemorial Day if everything goes right.

“If they don’t get stolen,” Billy Mullins said, referencing onebare spot where vandals had taken off with four of his flags.”Someone stole four of them. Why would you steal an Americanflag?”