If you’ve ever driven down Highway 280 in Birmingham, Alabama you may have noticed the towering flag that stands at Protective Life. The flag itself is 20 feet tall and 30 feet wide. The pole is 100 feet tall. Because it can take about 30 minutes to hoist the flag up the pole, it flies 24 hours a day and is lit with spotlights at night.
Protective was honored to recently receive a Certificate of Award for Proper Use, Correct Displaying and Patriotic Presentation of The Flag of the United States of America from a local chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
The women’s service organization promotes historic preservation and patriotism while honoring the American Revolution. The group is especially devoted to the U.S. flag, working to protect it under all conditions and keep it flying. DAR also educates children and adults on the correct ways to use and display the flag.
For more than 30 years, DAR member Jessie Schniper has watched with delight as the Stars and Stripes wave over one of the most heavily trafficked highways in Birmingham outside of Protective Life.
“As a member of DAR, it occurred to me that we should award Protective Life a Certificate of Appreciation,” she says.
Security Administrator Johnny Jackson, a veteran who served in both the Navy and Air Force, has overseen the flag outside Protective for 34 years. Jackson was present alongside CEO Rich Bielen to receive the certificate on behalf of Protective.
“Without sounding too cliché, the flag means freedom to me,” he says. “Freedom to worship, freedom to create my own opportunities, freedom to make my own decisions.”
The corporation goes through about four to five flags a year due to high winds and general wear and tear. On rare occasions when the flag doesn’t fly, such as when the pole is undergoing repair, Jackson says he will hear about it.
“We’ve had customers say they’re proud that we fly our flag so prominently,” he says. “But they also critique us if it gets in bad shape or we have to take it down. So, I have to stay on top of it.”
Protective Life Foundation Supports Troop 312 Flag Project
Protective’s dedication to honoring the United States flag doesn’t stop at its headquarters – it extends into the community.
Recently, a group of fifth-grade Junior Girl Scouts, Troop 312 in Birmingham, decided to put a flagpole outside their Scout House for their Bronze Award project. As part of the effort, the girls researched all aspects of erecting a flagpole on their property, from interviewing the building inspector to determine what size flagpole they could raise to determining the best type of American flag to purchase.
“They also studied flag ceremonies and proper handling of the flag,” says Judy Cullinan, Girl Scout Service Unit Manager and leader of Troop 312.
The project turned out to be much more involved – and more expensive – than anticipated. The 20-foot flagpole needed to be delivered by a freight company, an expense that exceeded the money the group had raised selling cookies earlier in the year. Cullinan wrote a grant to the Protective Life Foundation to donate to their cause, and the company agreed to help support their project. After months of planning, a U.S. flag will fly high above Troop 312’s Scout House for years to come.
“These girls worked so hard to make this happen,” Cullinan says. “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. If this isn’t an example of that, then I don’t know what is.”
Protective is proud to be honored for its display of the flag and to help support groups like Troop 312 through its Foundation. Visit protective.com to learn more about the Protective Life Foundation.