Lifelong resident Kelly Hendrix suffered a stroke on Friday March 10 and was admitted into the hospital. According to his mother, Barbara, Kelly is currently undergoing therapy and is scheduled to be released on April 3.
Most people in Greenwood know Kelly and for those who don’t; you have seen what he has given to the community. One of the first things that strike visitors as they drive through the city are the sheer number of American flags hanging from virtually every building and pole.
One might assume that this was the work of city employees, a civic group or a Boy Scout troop. However, it is the passion of one man who raises the funds, installs the flags and checks on their condition on a daily basis.
Hendrix volunteered to put flags up on Town Square for the Fourth of July celebration nearly 37 years ago. “I volunteered in 1980,” said Hendrix in a past interview with the Greenwood Democrat. “And I have been doing it ever since. I remember when Pete Brown was the mayor of Greenwood and he came through town in 1979 on the Fourth of July and there was nothing going on and he made the comment that we are going to have something going on the next year even if it is people just shooting bb guns. In 1980 the celebration was called ‘God and Patriotism’ and every year since I have been involved.”
When the first Gulf War began in 1991 Hendrix began flying the flags on the square all year long instead of just on Independance Day. “I wanted to fly the flags year round,” said Hendrix. “Because who says you can only be patriotic on the Fourth of July, to honor our veterans and to honor those that are over seas now.”
Kelly stated that his parents have likened his work to a ministry. “I have never looked at it that way,” said Hendrix but I guess it is. It is an overwhelming ministry and an everyday chore to keep them going.”
Hendrix is the only one that maintains the flags. “I am the one that changes them when they are bad and I am the one that does whatever needs to be done to them. When there is a storm I go through town and change them right then and there when they are bad.”
Kelly stated that he receives some donations but a great deal comes out of his own pocket.
“I have people from Greenwood come up and tell me how much they appreciate the flags and the veterans have told me that they really like it as well.” Hendrix stated that one of his favorite stories is about a soldier from Greenwood who was fighting in Desert Storm. When he returned home as he was driving through town he saw the flags flying and said that it made his heart feel good and when Kelly heard his story it made him feel like all that he does is worthwhile.
“I don’t do this for self gain,” said Hendrix. “It is not about me, I don’t do it for self enhancement or to make myself look good. I do it for the community.”
Whether it is the Freedomfest, the rodeo, the Christmas parade or putting up new flags Kelly can be seen doing his part for his hometown. As a senior in highschool he was voted “Most Dependable”, was given an “Outstanding Service” award in 2001 and was voted “Citizen of the Year by the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.
“I am very active with the school,” said Hendrix “and with the rodeo, the fair association and many others and I have spent many years with the Fort Smith Rodeo. That is very important to me. I love the rodeo. I volunteered as a boy with the rodeo. People say what do you not do? I have a lot of irons in the fire.
Anyone interested in donating money to keep the flags flying in Greenwood can drop off donations at the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce.
Since he was admitted to the hospital Greenwood Mayor Doug Kinslow has encouraged all city employees to check on the flags as they go through town. City Code Enforcement Officer Jerrod Ricketts has stated that he will help with the flags until Hendrix is back on his feet.