As Fourth of July approaches, local veteran George Bukhin is appealing to the community to support his initiative to install American flags at home around the city.

The project began earlier this year around Memorial Day, when a flag installed outside of Bukhin’s home was stolen and he decided the best response would be to help others hang flags.

Bukhin said he was amazed and how warm and respectfully his initiative has been received.

“Veterans are not too common in our community,” said Bukhin. “It’s meaningful that people take notice and want the American flag flying in their home.”

While the initial reception to his project was encouraging, the project has yet to take off.

“Overwhelmingly, the response to this initiative is very positive and supportive,” said Bukhin in a statement, although only a handful of flags have been installed in Santa Monica so far.

In the weeks since the project’s inception, Bukhin has struggled to keep the project going. “It’s been difficult … since I am completely self-funding this effort,” said Bukhin, who began by offering flag installations for $75 a home. “I’ve invested almost $1,000,” added Bukhin, “and that’s a lot when you’re working a low-paying job, and have several other projects going on.”

To publicize the project, Bukhin hired a homeless veteran to help him hand out over 2,500 flyers at homes around the city. Bukhin hopes that this project can serve the city’s veterans by providing jobs installing the flags to homeless or unemployed veterans.

“As a veteran, I thought it would be a great way to get a flag raised by a veteran,” added Bukhin. “This is an opportunity to tap into veterans who are in need.”

With his limited resources, however, this is only possible if the initiative gains traction. Bukhin noted that the return on investment has been minimal so far.

With resources dwindling, Bukhin hopes that donations can help to the initiative to grow.

“I have my website, www.mmPatriot.com, that acts as a hub to learn about my project,” said Bukhin, who launched an online fundraising campaign to accompany his flag initiative.

“I am fundraising … in hopes of raising enough funds to provide 100 flags to Santa Monica at no cost to residents,” said Bukhin, who is attempting to change the perception of the flag from an anomaly to the norm. His goal is “to get many flags flying in the city, not just on July 4th but … year round.”

Bukhin’s project aims not only to renew a local sense of patriotism but also to raise the visibility of veterans in our community and the issues that they face. Bukhin has helped interested people from out of state to connect with veterans in their area and hopes to forge a similar relationship between the residents and Santa Monica’s veteran population.

At the moment, however, the success of the project seems to rest on the patriotism of 4th of July. As Independence Day celebrations occur throughout the city, Bukhin hopes that people will be reminded of the American flag as a symbol of unity and choose to support his project.

While the future of this initiative may be uncertain, the experience is rewarding.

“It’s very meaningful when I can come to someone’s home and they have pride in the American flag we put up,” Bukhin added. “It’s amazing to see the emotions … when they come home every day and feel a sense of pride about the flag flying over their home.”

More information can be found at Bukhin’s website. Donations can be made online at https://www.crowdrise.com/americanflagsinstalledbyveterans.

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