For 22 years, Freda Turner kept the American flag next to the clean sheets in her linen closet, where it would be safe. She never even took it out of the box.
It was the flag she received when her husband, Tom Turner, a 20-year U.S. Army veteran of World War II and Korea, died in 1980. Four years before his death, the Turners established an annual award to recognize the best paramedics in the city of Clearwater.
The couple wanted to start the award, which is still given out 26 years later, for no other reason than to recognize heroic rescuers who don't often receive much recognition.
When ground was broken on a new fire station on Sand Key in December, Mrs. Turner was there. She decided she finally knew what to do with her husband's flag.
On Tuesday morning, the flag was hoisted to the top of a silver pole at the new station as part of a grand opening ceremony that drew more than 100 people.
Mrs. Turner said she wanted the flag to fly above the new station.
"I felt there wasn't as special an occasion as this, to open a new fire station," said Mrs. Turner, who had to attend the ceremony seated in a wheelchair after a fall a couple of weeks ago.
The new fire station, the city's seventh, has been open since Nov. 5.