Boy Scout erects flags to honor fallen law officers

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By AJ Vicens

As American flags have started to appear in clusters around the sheriff's complex in Golden, county employees and visitors have started to call Sheriff Ted Mink and ask why.

"When they first went up, I got calls from people asking about it," Mink said. "People were very receptive. They said, 'That's a great idea.’ "

That idea is the brainchild of 17-year-old Skyler Kleinschmidt. The young man is putting the flags around the sheriff's office to pay tribute to law enforcement officers and to earn his Eagle Scout rank. He said the Kiwanis Club in Golden has its own flag project and helped with his.

The first part of the project was to assemble 200 American flag displays (including poles, pole holders and the flags). Half of those were to be displayed at the sheriff's office in Kleinschmidt’s project, and the other half were erected by Kiwanians around Golden. The Fraternal Order of Police chipped in to cover some of the costs.

The flags first started appearing around the sheriff's office May 15 at the beginning of National Police Week, a time meant to honor fallen officers. The flags stayed up through Memorial Day. Other batches of flags will appear for other holidays and on other days, sometimes just for a day and sometimes for a week or more.

For Kleinschmidt, this is not just another merit badge on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout. The senior at Wheat Ridge High School has a special place in his heart for law enforcement officers.

His father is Lt. Del Kleinschmidt of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

"Talk about making someone proud," Del Kleinschmidt said. "Proud doesn't even come close."

The younger Kleinschmidt wanted to find a way to honor his dad and other officers.

"It's an amazing sense of accomplishment," Skyler Kleinschmidt said. "I'm floored by the response, all the positive feedback. I'm thankful everybody has been so (supportive) ee . It's not so much that I'm thankful for me; it's that I'm thankful to the police officers that go out every day and risk themselves to keep the community safe."

"It's one of those things you never think about — the impact it has on people," Del Kleinschmidt said. He added that surviving family members of fallen officers have told him about the huge impact the project has had on their lives.

"This is his way of pulling together the Eagle Scout project that does make a difference," Del Kleinschmidt said. "The community should be looking at this as an awesome project and hopefully get on board and do it more."

The project stirs emotion in Mink.

"It makes me reflect on those officers lost in the line of duty, and the soldiers who have lost their lives," Mink said. "It feels patriotic to see the number of flags around here. What better capsulizes America than the Boy Scouts? It just makes me feel good."

As an added bonus, a lot of Kleinschimidt's family were in town to see his handiwork because he graduated from Wheat Ridge High on May 23.

“There's just a bunch of stuff this month," Kleinschmidt said, noting that he has the flag project, graduation, and he turns 18 on May 29. "And I have to find a job to help for college." He wants to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., a top-flight engineering school.

The flag project should put him over the top to earn his Eagle Scout rank, something less than 5 percent of Boy Scouts ever accomplish.

"It's pretty nice to be among that very small percentage of Scouts who actually make Eagle," Kleinschmidt said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.