Sycamore man proud of his star-spangled collection

SYCAMORE – On patriotic holidays, lots of people fly an American flag.

John Arends of Sycamore flies about 20.

There are about 55 flags in Arends’ collection, and many of them wave in patriotic display from his Somonauk Street home on holidays like Flag Day and the Fourth of July.

Arends estimates about two-fifths of his flags are reproductions, while the remaining pieces are originals. The changing field of stars marks their place in American history.

“I’m hesitant to fly the originals,” he said. “I’ve got enough 48s (stars) and 49s to fly those. The 45s and 46s are pretty delicate. They’re pre-World War I. Sometimes I hang them on the front porch.”

When asked if all of his flags are U.S. banners, Arends chuckled. All are American flags, he said – but six are reproduction Confederate flags. There are also “six or seven” Civil War-era federal flags with 33 to 36 stars in the field of blue.

Arends thinks the collection began with a 48-star banner. His favorite is a 45-star flag dating from the Spanish-American War.

“I just like flags,” he said. “As long as I’ve lived in this house, I’ve flown a POW and a 50-star flag every day. My dad was a World War II vet, and though I was not in the service, Vietnam was my time and those guys had a hard time. I just don’t want people to forget.”

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