pinnacle of American Nationalism for the year is just past. Robert made
his own “patriotic” splash on the 3rd and 4th marching in the local
parades, waving his own flag and singing You’re a Grand Old Flag. You
should have been there.
I got the bug a while ago to join this
year's parade, having driven to the old hometown of Lavina and marching
in their 2010 Independence Day Parade. With other things coming and
going, I had almost let the 2011 event pass out of my consciousness
Terri Steuben at the Chamber of Commerce told me the
Cub Scouts needed flags - from my collection - for their entry in the
parade. The hospital wanted some, too. And, the theme for the annual
parades was Flags of Our Fathers.
So, I had to join in. Put on
the backpack I carried across the country in 2002 and displayed my own
flag, Fannie, who accompanied from Lavina, MT, to Liberty Island.
The symbol above is, to me, the Heart and Soul of the American flag. It you count
up the major parts of the images and ponder them you may
get some hints why the American flag - in particular the original
concept - has some deep esoteric meanings. Definitely worth your
The second figure was spurred by Peace
(Ginger) Arnold’s suggestion that I use some of my favorite symbols to
create a new currency - front and reverse of a New Bill. Local
currency is one of her interests. It has been a passing one for me as
well. I have tried to inform locals about the value of local currency,
but not gotten very far.
For the moment, just the idea may be
worth your own contemplation. Money is important, but what it stands
for is more so. American symbols and those on the dollar bill have faded,
become trampled on more than a bit and need to be resurrected in many
Your thoughts and comments on the New Bill are invited. If
you have interest in using any of these symbols or collections
thereof, I will be happy to make them available to you in a usable
One more addition is an
article I wrote years ago about Fannie the Flag. At the time, Meryl Ann
Butler was working on a potential book devoted to the stories behind
fabric art pieces. You might enjoy the Fannie the Flag story.
“You’re a Grand Old Flag, a high flying flag ...”
WALKING WITH THE LADY
walk the road many miles day after day with a lady. She’s just a wisp
of a thing but still turns many heads - heads of men and women, young
and old alike. My lady friend is the quietest, calmest female I’ve ever
known. She speaks boldly without words.
She can’t help but
show her true colors and thus makes people pay attention. At the same
time, the stares and hollers of admiration she attracts make my tired
feet ache a little less over the stretches of those long walks.
even though she’s been at my side for many months, her real name is
unknown to me. So, I simply call my friend, Fannie.
the flag I carried for miles and miles across America during the summer
of 2002. Fannie was my partner on a 2100-mile journey from Lavina,
Montana, to Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
Fannie and I
started down the road on June 11, 2002, and completed our journey at
the feet of the Lady Liberty on November 3. We took some photos with
Her and conferred quietly on the symbolic state of America. After
riding the ferry to Manhattan and taking the train to Queens, we were
guests at a welcoming party in Douglaston.
Along the many
miles of our route across the country, Fannie suggested to onlookers
and visitors a new edition of Old Glory: The STAR and Stripes. Maybe
the one large white star on her blue field hints that it’s time for us
become the United STATE of America. That One Star may remind us of our
longheld motto, E Pluribus Unum (From Many One) as well as the
currently popular one, United We Stand.
Fannie and I expectantly
and happily walked across many state lines. We noticed distinct
differences from state to state in terrain, in architecture, in
temperament. We saw the sagebrush prairies of Montana blend into the
wheat fields of North Dakota and those into the Land of Lakes in
Minnesota and the Dairyland of Wisconsin, and later into the
manufacturing areas of Michigan, eventually blending with neighboring
Canada and finally culminating in the original coastal colonies of New
York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Glowing in the midst of
Fannie’s single star is a golden heart. This heart element is as yet
unknown to national flags. But, it may be time for a true birthing of
heart in the great land of America. This flag can easily bring to mind
the Golden Rule, that “God is Love,” and that we are intended to be One
Nation Under God.
Fannie and I often recognized both the
material abundance and human benevolence of this country in the course
of our journey. We received gifts of food and lodging, transportation
and conversation, encouragement and prayers from so many. The heart of
America and Americans is so strong and vibrant; why shouldn't it be
allowed greater respect and even be exhibited on our national banner?
fabric of Fannie's golden heart has 13 little stars woven into it. The
many states and parts and people of our nation are not lost in the
greater unit but retain their individuality and diversity within the
While the states and peoples of America have much in
common, a walk across this country revealed so many aspects of what I
call our "uniquity." This was never more apparent than when we trekked
through small towns, sat in their memorial parks, attended
celebrations, ate in their cozy cafes, listened to people’s concerns
and aspirations. We saw the work of hands and hearts in the arts and
crafts, paintings and photography, design and sculpture that decorate
houses and businesses and farms everywhere.
Although this walk
across America may have appeared to be one of worldly exploration, it
was also an inner quest for meaning exemplified by the flag I carried,
Her identity may be made somewhat more
recognizable by reviewing her ancestry as well as her construction. To
really get to know Fannie, you have to meet her elders.
ancestry dates from the appearance of her elder sister on the second
story wall of the old county garage in Lavina, Montana. With help from
my family, I purchased that 6000-square-foot building in 1997. We
proceeded to repair and refurbish the subsequently renamed Rocky
Mountain Garage. Our first project was a Red White and Blue paint job
(what else?) on the wooden surfaces of the largely brick structure. As
the upgrade continued, I colored the original flag - 20 by 12 feet -
onto the second story south facing wall. This flag had a pink heart, at
first, resting over the single white star on the field of blue.
second sister is a quilt which I designed and sewed with the help of
Jeanne Meyer, Janet Ecord and Karen Murnion. It has bright lively
colors and a border which reads "God Bless America." The quilted flag
finds its major use as a backdrop to the Rocky Mountain Garage's stage
constructed in 1998 to hold the first annual and subsequent Red White
and Blue Celebrations.
Fannie is a mere lightweight compared to
her sisters. She only measures 3 by 5 feet, but took many hours to
construct: to cut out, piece together, sew, and create a protective
sheath. Fannie is composed of Red White and Blue nylon I cut with a
soldering iron to prevent fraying and sewed together on an inexpensive
machine. Her two golden hearts (one on each side) were ironed onto her
white stars using Wonder Under. Finally, Fannie’s fabric was attached
to the 5-foot wooden staff which I carried across America.
the road, I periodically used a match to seal minor nylon frays. I also
purchased a needle and thread in North Dakota to keep the hearts from
falling off their stars. This may well have symbolized my own need to
be reenergized and reinspired at different times along the way.
dream/project/task of walking America was WORK, but it was also
magical. Walking with the Fannie the Flag was a timely event, a
reminder of the goodness of America, and a confirmation that Love is at
work and alive in the hearts of our people.
I had many sources
of inspirations in this journey. Supported by a deep sense of the
Divine in all things, an awareness of the spirit of the Founding
Fathers at large in the land, the remembrance of prayers sent our way
from Lavina to New York City, and the waves and salutes along the road,
I was assured that this Walk Across America had merit and meaning.
I now see that my greatest inspiration for this passage was none other
than Lady Fannie. At the Statue of Liberty, as Fannie and I had our
pictures taken with friends, we attracted the attention of visitors and
park rangers alike. In a final touching moment of the trip, a young
Asian-American man wearing a Yankee baseball jacket asked to borrow the
Flag for his own personal photo session with this lively, lovely
Fannie the Flag not only recalls America's past
grandeur but also hints at many of our greater possibilities which
remain to be fulfilled.
Fannie, thanks for walking the road with me.