World War II vet uses rewards program
to help Iowa post grow with city.
As the winds blow across suburban Ankeny, Iowa, the sight and sound of U.S. flags is ever-present, due in part to Gerald Ballard. Since 1986, the World War II Coast Guard veteran and member of Albaugh-McGovern Post 42 has been selling flags to businesses in his community to keep his post afloat and flag etiquette in check.
Ballard, 91, has 105 customers and is getting more all the time, as Ankeny grows in size and population. He sells more than 400 flags annually and nets the post a tidy sum for his efforts. "It's to support my Legion post," he says. "I'm not bragging, but I make the post $6,000 to $7,000 per year, and that feels pretty good. I was in the feed business for 37 years and was my own salesman, so I figured I was cut out for it."
Mitchell Arney, Post 42's adjutant, says Ballard has long been the backbone of the post and is the Legionnaire who first signed him up for membership.
"He is the foundation of this post. He has been here forever and been involved in all of our activities, and gives more than 100 percent in everything he does," Arney says.
"Gerald has become the resource for people who want a quality flag and want to support The American Legion and our community."
Post 42 was near bankruptcy eight years ago when Ballard made a firm push to sell more flags and get it back on solid financial footing. Soon the post had money in the bank, and it now provides funds to several Legion youth programs, as well as groups and organizations in the community.
"The Legion flag sales are important for what we want to do," Ballard says. "If we want to continue to support the community, we've got to have some funds. The day is coming – I'm crowding 92 – when I won't be selling. But for now it's better than sitting in a chair."
The post has also benefited from the Flag Rewards program offered by American Legion Emblem Sales. Ballard and Post 42 participate in the program, and earned more than $1,100 in rewards in 2012 to spend in 2013. By purchasing U.S. flags from Emblem Sales, posts earn free credit to purchase virtually anything from the Emblem Sales catalog or website – including, but not limited to, awards, uniforms, shirts, caps, pins, coins, patches, flags and baseballs.
Post adjutants can sign up for Flag Rewards by contacting Emblem Sales at (888) 453-4466.