12-year-old Liam Willcox of Moline has set a goal to replace all of the worn out American flags at homes and public spaces across the Quad-Cities.

Liam began his mission about three weeks ago, saying he was inspired by a veteran who spoke at an East Moline Christian School assembly

His mother, Stephanie Willcox, of Moline, said her son's flag restoration project began with that flag on the way to Short Hills Country Club. After they replaced it, Mrs. Willcox realized that was only the beginning.

Once they began looking, she said, they were surprised at how many worn and torn flags there are in the area. With so many to replace, they began seeking donations.

The first flags came from True Value Hardware in Moline who donated two and when Liam picked up the flags, the manager donated two more from her own personal funds.

Liam and his mom have gone door-to-door offering to replace ripped flags, and Liam helped replace the flag on the soldiers' monument at 7th Avenue and 19th Street in Moline.

He also is hoping to replace the flag held by the eagle at the Hero Street Memorial in Silvis but said he is struggling to contact the owner. Liam's work goes beyond just replacing tattered flags.

To ensure the tattered flags were properly retired, Mrs. Willcox contacted Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2153 in Moline.

Howard Koch, service officer with Post 2153, sat down with Liam and discussed the process which includes burning the flags at Wendt Funeral Home every Flag Day (June 14) to properly retire them. He encouraged Liam to drop off tattered flags at Post 2153 so they could be retired in this way. And he extended an invitation to help next year.

Post 2153 also voted Thursday to donate 10 flags to Liam's flag restoration project. Liam says he wants to collect enough flag donations to be able to stop and replace a flag whenever he sees one that's tattered.

"That's the goal -- to have a stash of flags big enough that he can be like 'Pull over' (and replace a flag)," Mrs. Willcox said.

To follow his project, report a tattered flag and learn flag etiquette, visit the Flag Restoration Project Facebook page.

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