A job well done and a feeling of accomplishment! MRE lineman, Bill Doty, left, and American Legion member, Tim Duve, share a handshake after securing the new suicide awareness sign, purchased by the American Legion, to the post in front of US Bank last week.

You may have noticed that the lone flag that flies year-round on the light post outside U.S. Bank has been joined by a colorful sign bearing a teal and purple ribbon. The American Legion and Marias River Electric (MRE) recently partnered to bring more awareness to a subject that is important to both entities, suicide awareness and prevention. 

People from both organizations met last week to hang the new sign, purchased by the American Legion from Big Sky Creative Vinyl and mounted to its bracket and then the light post by the staff at MRE.

“This originally started two years ago,” said American Legion member Tim Duve. “Two years ago a lady came to us whose daughter was a veteran who had committed suicide. The woman donated the remaining memorial monies donated from her daughter’s passing to the American Legion and we bought new flags for Main Street. We leave the one flying at U.S. Bank year-round, in honor of her.”

Duve explained the next year the American Legion checked into what the suicide awareness colors were and they got ribbons and started putting those up, too. Shelby Floral and Cottage Keep were generous ribbon donors but the American Legion soon realized that with the winds and weather around here, those wear out quick.

“We decided we needed to do something more permanent,” said Duve. “We started working with Barbie at Big Sky Creative Vinyl and gave her the design. That’s when we found out that design was taken and already had a patent, so we had to come up with a new one. We did, and it has a patent as well. Big Sky created the ribbon and really worked with us on the project. She pretty much did it for cost, she didn’t make a penny on this.”

The American Legion is moving forward with its suicide awareness movement and is now working with Big Sky Creative Vinyl on possibly making magnetic car stickers and other items they could do for their program.

“This is all just our part in the American Legion,” said Duve. “We serve our community and this is part of the community.”

The American Legion greatly appreciates any donations they receive and all donations stay right here to benefit Toole County. 

“You can specify if you want your donation to go towards suicide awareness or other stuff,” said Duve. “The overall awareness is very important to us. Montana is number one in the nation for suicide and people just don’t seem to realize it. It’s a growing thing and anything we can do to help, we will. There are more suicides than people even realize, it seems like every family has been affected or knows someone.”

Duve praised MRE for the outstanding job its staff did in creating the bracket for the new sign and mounting it on the pole.

“MRE is very much behind the program,” smiled Duve. “They did an outstanding job and we know it’s done right, it’s hanging on their pole.”

There are a couple of reasons behind the location of the year-round flag and now the suicide awareness sign. First and foremost, it is one of the most protected spots on Main Street to fly a flag, year around. The other reason simply being U.S. Bank’s colors of red, white and blue.

“The location is really good and the colors of U.S. Bank fit with the military and the United States,” said Duve. “There’s been a lot of community response, all have been for it.”

The American Legion is proud to serve its community however it can and promoting suicide awareness is just one more way. 

Anyone wishing to donate to the American Legion can contact Duve at (406) 450-6419, or by mail, P.O. Box 881, Shelby, MT 59474. If you would like your donation to go towards a certain project, such as suicide awareness, please just note that in the memo on your check. 

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