Couple turns used pallets into patriotic displays

If you drive through the Bradford Estates neighborhood off DeSoto Parkway, you’ll see 28 of these “flags” made from used pallets, thanks to the efforts of couple Robert Callahan and Mary Calhoun, U.S. Air Force veterans who moved to Fort Payne from Montana a little over two years ago. 

In tough times, people step up with a desire to do something to help. One Fort Payne couple decided to express unity with their neighbors by painting palettes with patriotic displays.

Mary Calhoun said she and her husband, Robert Callahan, moved to Fort Payne two years ago after being stationed in Montana with the U.S. Air Force. He is retired from the USAF, while she is a disabled veteran. The couple drove through the area in 2011 and really liked what they saw.

When the COVID-19 pandemic reached Alabama and families began sheltering at home to slow the community spread of the coronavirus, Calhoun and Callahan donated fabric to a neighbor who began sewing protective facemasks for others. Wanting to also do something to help raise spirits, they focused their attention on transforming wooden pallets, the platforms used in warehouses and in trucks to move products around with the aid of a forklift. They began taking the used pallets apart, making the planks appear more even, painting them in American colors and hand-painting 50 stars.

Calhoun said they’ve create 28 of the “flags” since late March, many of them displayed in their Bradford Estates neighborhood off DeSoto Parkway.

“Everybody’s been asking for them,” she said. “They asked, ‘How much is it?’ and we said we weren’t charging. This is our way of showing that we are all in this together, united. We also wanted to express gratitude to neighbors who work as K9 officers, nurses and firefighters. It’s a way of telling them thanks for all they’re doing as front line responders during this.”

They’ve relied on donated pallets and hope to get some more soon. She estimated that it takes a full day to create each display, adding, “It really depends on the condition of the pallet.”

It’s a simple gesture meant to bolster patriotism, but they are happy to do their part in helping the community pull together with determination to endure and emerge from the other side of adversity stronger.

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