An organization that usually relies on the kindness of others, Goodwill of the Heartland will donate a rare historic flag it recently received at its Davenport store.|
A Japanese battle flag captured by U.S. forces after the 1943 battle of Tarawa Island during World War II was donated anonymously to the Goodwill store at 5360 Villa Drive, Davenport, this past summer.
Because of its value and potential to raise more money for the nonprofit, the flag originally was listed on Goodwill's auction website at shopgoodwill.com. When bids on the flag exceeded $4,000, Goodwill's e-commerce expert, Jason Wilcox, took a closer look at the listing.
"When I discovered the item was an important part of our military history, our retail leadership team didn't feel right about selling the flag," he said Tuesday.
Instead, Goodwill will donate the military artifact to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, reflecting "the respect we have for our veterans," said Brent Watkins, Goodwill of the Heartland's creative services manager. "We felt it would be best placed in a museum that celebrates their sacrifices."
The Japanese Imperial Navy raised the flag during its occupation of Tarawa, an atoll in the central Pacific Ocean 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii.
On Nov. 20, 1943, the U.S. 2nd Marine Division attacked Tarawa in an effort to end the Japanese occupation of the tiny island. Over a 76-hour battle, nearly 6,000 Japanese and Americans died in the fighting.
The flag donated to Goodwill has the following inscription written along the border: "CAPTURED FROM JAPANESE IMPERIAL MARINES NOV. 24 1943 ON BETIO ISLE IN TARAWA OF GILBERT ISLAND," with the name of William P. Kulbieda, of the Marines 2nd Division, who received the Silver Star for gallantry in action during that battle.
"It's unusual to get a rare item like this," Mr. Watkins said. "We have antiques and vintage jewelry, widespread collectible items, but nothing of this historic significance."
Funded in part by 14 Goodwill stores in southeast Iowa, including the Quad-Cities, Goodwill of the Heartland provides vocational and other programming including job training, transitional job experience and life skill development. Its free services include working with area veterans.
That job is growing with the opening of an expanded Support Services Center, 805 W. 35th St., Davenport, on Oct. 26.
The 7,200 square-foot center will house programing for homeless and unemployed veterans, participants in Goodwill's Day Habilitation Programming and employment services for people with disabilities and other work barriers.
Since Goodwill of the Heartland began working with homeless veterans in November 2003, 812 veterans from the Q-C region, including Clinton and Muscatine, have received help to prepare to work and find a job, Mr. Watkins said.
The organization was awarded a grant earlier this year from the U.S. Department of Labor to continue working with homeless veterans for three more years.
Goodwill's new Day Habilitation program provides opportunities for participants to increase their independence through interaction in the community and to develop and maintain independent living skills.
For more information, visit goodwillheartland.org.
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