Early in 2004, six local veterans launched a project to pay tribute to Montana veterans as well as all other service members by raising a 110 ft. flag pole for a 30 by 50 ft. American Flag. The flag flies on a knoll west of Shelby, overlooking the intersection of I-15, the First Special Services Memorial Highway, and U.S. 2, the 163rd Regiment Memorial Highway.
The cost of the project, pole steel, construction, concrete, fencing and landscaping was projected to be $10,000 to $20,000, borne by the original volunteers. Soon, however, a larger regional patriot spirit kicked in, and donations of equipment, time and labor by area contractors, businesses and new volunteers reduced the burden by sharing it.
As word of the flag project spread, cash donations began to pour in, too. As the monument area was improved and expanded, the cost grew in excess of $150,000. On July 4, 2005, the first 30 x 50 ft. American Flag was raised and it has been flying 24/7 since.
The flag project is now reorganized through the Toole County Community Foundation under a non-profit 501 (C) 3 tax-exempt status, which allows for donations to be tax-deductible on state and federal returns.
Six smaller 30-ft. poles were later installed to fly the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard and POW-MIA service flags. These flags are raised on special occasions such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Flag Day.
The flag is flown at half-staff on special occasions and on orders from the President of the United States and the Governor of Montana.
The location of the flag on a hill in a high-wind area - class IV winds are considered to be the highest in the nation - subjects the 1,500 sq. ft. flag to extreme wear. Flags are replaced about every three to four months at a cost of $1,750 each. The annual cost of replacement of flags and maintenance is $5,000 to $6,000. Donations are accepted to insure that our nation’s flag will continue to fly in the Big Sky well into the future.