MATTHEWS - At 5 years old, DeeKota Polk already understands the significance of the flag.
"It means America," she volunteered, "because it's American."
That message of patriotism is just what the members of the Veterans Committee of Noranda hope to spread as they sponsor "100 flags for 100 schools." DeeKota's school, Matthews Elementary at Matthews, is one of the first to receive a flag.
"The Noranda veterans are distributing the flags to instill patriotism and a sense of national pride in our young, America's future," said Jim Burch, a committee member and an employee of Noranda Aluminum Co. in Marston.
At the presentation, Burch was joined by two other Noranda employees and veterans, Harold Burch, who served in World War II, and Jerry Whitehead.
The men pointed out while the presentation of the flags is occurring at a rather appropriate time with the increased interest in patriotism following the terrorists attacks in New York and Washington, it was a result of a long-term project by the Veterans Committee of Noranda, which was formed in 1999 with the help of Noranda and Steelworkers Local 7686.
Whitehead said the 100 flags for a 100 schools was an idea which originated last year. Fund-raising raffles were completed some time ago and the flags ordered.
"We wanted to get more flags into the schools," said Whitehead. He noted the high-quality, embroidered flags are suitable for display indoors or out.
For Jim Bates, building principal, the two new flags are a welcomed addition. Although the flag always is flying on school days and students have recently completed projects creating their own flags, the flags donated by the Committee will be placed in rooms in the school without their own flags on display, he said.
"We certainly appreciate the support and the gifts at a time like this," he added.
According to Burch, Wednesday's presentation has a dual purpose. Not only does it put the flags in the school, but "this is something the committee wanted to do to show our patriotism and to let others know about us."
The Veterans Committee of Noranda includes some 240 veterans employed by the aluminum reduction company. The committee holds several flag raisings throughout the year and hosts guest speakers.
The 100 flags is the second project by the group. Their first effort was to pay for the veterans' names to be inscribed on the Poplar Bluff Veterans' Memorial Wall.