‘Cost of Freedom’ flags available in Natchez and Vidalia

Published 12:01 am Sunday, May 8, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT “The Cost of Freedom” flags are available at all Natchez Festival of Music events, bank lobbies in Natchez and Vidalia and will be presented to schoolchildren in Adams County.

NATCHEZ — Everyone above the age of 18 can probably remember where they were and what they were doing when they learned the world had changed forever.

As the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. approaches, the Natchez Festival of Music was chosen by the Cost of Freedom Flag Company as the charitable organization in the Miss-Lou area to sponsor the program.

Mary Lessley, a festival board member and chairman of the tribute flags project, said the program is a fundraising initiative for more than $1 million in scholarships, and also an educational opportunity for schoolchildren — many of whom were too young to remember the day, but still experience the impact of it.

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The flag’s designer and company CEO will present the flag and patriotic programs to Cathedral students and local veterans on at 9:30 a.m. Monday, May 16 and at Trinity at 12:30 p.m. The program will be presented to Natchez High students at 9:30 a.m. May 18.

“I feel like so many have deviated from the American way,” Lessley said. “I know most schools say the pledge, and it’s taken for granted. Some children don’t realize the many lives that were given for the freedoms we enjoy daily.”

Lessley said she is honored that the company chose the festival to participate in the program. She said the company contacted festival organizers through George Hogan, former director of the festival.

Lessley said the 3-by-5-foot flags are made in the U.S. and are constructed of a material called nylon Solarmax, the same material used in space suit construction — specifically designed for outdoor use. The flags are finished with a white header and brass grommets.

These aren’t ordinary flags. John Maslak, a Pennsylvania resident who was on the scene of the Flight 93 crash site within minutes, designed the flag that depicts the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93. The bottom of the flag reads, “The Cost of Freedom.”

Maslak will be at the Brown Bag Concert by the River on the Natchez Bluff Gazebo May 17 to officially kickoff the flag drive. The company’s president, Paul K. Phillips, will also be in attendance, both sharing testimony of their personal experience on Sept. 11, 2001. Orders will be taken from 11 a.m. to 1:30 at the festival event.

“We would like to see everyone in the Miss-Lou flying these flags,” Lessley said. “We shouldn’t take anything for granted, and wake up everyday thanking God for our freedom.”

The flags are $39.95.

The flags can be ordered at all Natchez Festival of Music Events, from the website www.natchezfestivalofmusic.com, all Natchez and Vidalia bank lobbies, the Natchez Visitor’s Center or from Lessley. Orders will arrive within four to six weeks.

To contact Lessley to order the Cost of Freedom Flag, e-mail her at marylessley@yahoo.com. Checks can be made payable to: The Cost of Freedom Flag, LLC. Mail order forms to:

Mary Lessley, 100 South Temple Road, Natchez, MS 39120.