There will be a lot of flag waving on the Fourth of July. An Elizabethton man could wave a different flag each day for at least three years because he has so many.
He's been collecting and learning about not just American flags, but flags from all over since the 1970s.
The balcony of the Church of the Nazarene in Elizabethton is ringed with historical American and local flags. They're just part of the collection of vexillologist Jimmy Richie's huge collection.
He can only estimate how many he has. "About a thousand, about a thousand," Richie says.
He's been collecting and learning about flags for the past 40 years after his brother gave him his first flag. "The first flag I had, he caught it when they were shooting flags off at the carnival. At the end of the fireworks they shot an American flag off with the fireworks and he caught it as it was coming down," Jimmy said.
He's not only a collector of flags but facts about flags, like what to do when the country adds a new state. "They used to put a stripe and a star on the flag when there was a state come in. See that one over there with the 48 stars on it? Could you imagine 48 stripes on it, how big it would be," he said.
And apparently those stars are Betsy Ross's idea, not the design for the flag. "A lawyer came up with it. Betsy Ross did not have nothing to do with it. All she did was come up with the five point star," he says.
Among the display are battle flags from the Revolutionary War, so we asked about the use of snakes and pine trees on the flags. The pine trees came from the New England units, but the snakes? "That goes back to Ben Franklin, he liked the snakes. There's something about a snake. You didn't mess with a snake and that's why they had it," Jimmy said.
Richie is far from done with his flag collection; he got two from South American just this week.