BRIDGMAN — Anna and Emily Howell love their country and its flag.

So the sisters, looking for something to occupy their summer, created “Flags for the Holidays” last year, so that American flags fly in their neighborhood on special occasions. 

“We thought it would look nice in our neighborhood and show patriotism,” said older sister Emily, who is 11. 

The girls went door to door to the 40 houses in the Hidden Creek Subdivision asking homeowners if they’d like to have a flag in their yard. 

“It was kind of scary because you don’t know everybody, but then it was kind of fun at the same time,” Emily said. 

Emily attends F.C. Reed Middle School, and Anna, 7, attends Bridgman Elementary School.

Last year the sisters got 22 homes to participate in their project. This year they enlisted 29 homes. 

“This year we asked them if they would like to have a flag in their yard again. To the people who didn’t do it, we’d tell them what it was about,” Anna said. “They pay $35 then we get all the stuff to build the flags.”

Then the sisters and their parents, Kirstin and Jim, put the flags up at 8 a.m. and take them down just before dark on nearly 30 holidays throughout the year. 

The girls said that in addition to such usual holidays as Easter, New Year’s, Memorial Day and Labor Day, they chose to celebrate the birthdays of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps because they are proud of their dad, who served with the 82nd Airborne Division, and both of their grandfathers, one who served in Korea and the other in Vietnam. The also had great-grandfathers who served in both world wars.

The Howell girls even put the flags up for Barbara Bush’s funeral and Bridgman High School’s graduation. 

It all depends on the weather though, they said. 

Kirstin said she usually puts the flags up in the morning, so the girls can get ready for school or sleep in during the summer. 

“But it’s a family project,” she said. “Last night we all went around and measured and drilled the holes for the PVC pipe for the new homes that are getting flags this year.”

Anna said they spray orange paint around the holes, so they can easily find them. 

Kirstin said on the days the flags are put up, the family talks about that holiday. 

“Like our next one is the Fourth of July so we talk about that holiday,” she said, before the holiday. “When we talked about doing flags, we talked about what the flag means to us. Then we talked about different kinds of government.”

Emily and Anna said it has been a fun and rewarding project that they’ve taken beyond just their neighborhood. 

“With the money raised we bought some flag markers for the cemetery in New Troy. We gave them to the American Legion there,” Anna said. 

The girls bought 192 grave marker flags, and they hope to do something similar again this year.

Kirstin said she and Jim are proud of the girls and love to see their joy when going through the neighborhood.

“They have received many compliments and thank yous from the community,” she said.

The family encourages the public to take a drive today, through the subdivision off of Baldwin Road, to see all the flags flying for Independence Day. 

Contact: anewman@TheHP.com, 932-0357, Twitter: @HPANewman