A flying tribute

Tony Heiman, left, admires the flag collection at 213 E. 11th St. that he and his longtime friend Paul Ulibarri began building six months ago. They want the flags to unify Clovis.

Benna Sayyed

Tony Heiman hopes the collection of flags flying in his front yard in Clovis can inspire a sense of harmony and patriotism.

It started with a single 17-foot flag pole the former welder fashioned from scrap metal he found near a trash bin to fly the American flag and has grown to include tributes to war veterans and surrounding states.

The disabled Vietnam veteran’s collection at 213 E. 11th St. pays tribute to fallen American heroes, POWS, and MIAs as well as he hopes reminds citizens of Clovis’ good old days, and encourages them to work toward restoring the city.

“The flags represent making Clovis a better town and making it look nicer,” he said.

Heiman, 56, came to Clovis in 1972 to serve at Cannon Air Force Base. He said Clovis was once a city where citizens could leave their doors open without having to worry about burglaries or violence.

“I’d like to see everybody get along and help each other and love each other and take care of each other and make Clovis and nicer, friendlier place to live,” Heiman said.

Heiman’s longtime friend, Paul Ulibarri, who assists him in setting up the flags, also shares Heiman’s strong spirit of patriotism and desire to better his hometown.

Ulibarri said the youth should pass by, look at the flags, and remember that the U.S. is a nation in which many different people can live and work together in harmony.

“The kids nowadays can look at them (the flags) and open their eyes and remember how great the country is,” said Ulibarri.

Heiman and Ulibarri will next fly the Colorado and Oklahoma state flags. Heiman hopes that people will appreciate that American and POW flags most but can also view flags of their home state.

“You know how the United Nations have all of the flags from all of the nations? Well maybe I’ll have all of the flags from the United States.”