Arizona – August 29 – September 1, 2015
As a team we always ask ourselves what a “10” trip looks like. Our Trip to Arizona was definitely a 10! We had a phenomenal time in Phoenix, where some very influential people added their impressions to the Flag.
Our first stop was the Grand Canyon Council to visit the Boy Scouts of America. Did you know that, since its founding in 1910, more than 110 million Americans have been at one point or another members of the BSA?
The next morning, we met with Jay Schroeder who is one of the top Olympic and professional athletic trainers in the country. We were amazed at the technology and the results oriented techniques that Jay and his team use to treat America’s highest performing athletes. Our team was able to take some great pictures which you can view by clicking on the photo gallery button above.
Our next stop in Arizona was to visit Sheila Rogers. We originally met Sheila in Nashville earlier in the summer. Sheila is a retired schoolteacher and principal. Sheila fell in love with the Flag for Hope Project and followed us on our Flag for Hope Facebook page. When she learned that we were coming to her home town in Arizona, she volunteered to host our team. We included one of our favorite pictures and we loved posting it as our Facebook cover page. These are active and retired teachers all adding their hand impressions to the Flag for Hope. This was a nice chance for us to honor our educators across the nation.
One of those teachers told us that her dad Leo Krampf, a 95-year old veteran of World War II who was in a rehab hospital recovering from a leg amputation. Leo would have loved to come see the Flag but was not allowed to leave the hospital. The team made note later of the moment when they all looked at each other and thought the same thing…let’s go see Leo! Up for the challenge Marcos and the Flag for Hope field team brought the Flag to the hospital to thank Leo for his service! The recovering Veteran was in good spirits, in fact he seemed to come to life as he shared some stories from his hospital bed. They family was very grateful we made the special visit, but really we were the grateful ones, and we are honored to have met this Patriotic soldier and wonderful man. Welcome to the Flag for Hope team everyone!
On Monday we went to Phoenix City Hall hosted by Councilman Jim Waring’s office. The city welcomed us with open arms and invited a bunch of VIP’s Including Governor Jan Brewer, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Councilman Michael Nowakowski, Councilwoman Kate Gallego, City Manager Ed Zuercher and US Women’s Hockey silver medalist, Lindsey Fry.
On Tuesday, we were so excited to begin adding the 50 stars to the Flag for Hope. The stars have been reserved for influential people who have contributed to America in a remarkable way. John McCain and his wife Cindy made history by creating a painted Star with family hand impressions on the flag. It was a great moment and we were so honored to have Senator McCain participate. The Senator’s staff was remarkable at putting the word out on Twitter and Facebook.
At every Flag for Hope Day we give the participants a chance to talk about what the American Flag means to them. The Senator was asked this question and his response was remarkable. The room became quiet as the ex-Pow McCain told about a time while in captivity during the Vietnam War. His cell mate had managed to create an American Flag by stitching it together with a bamboo sewing needle. “We saluted that Flag every day”, stated McCain. One day the guards found the Flag and as punishment, nearly beat his cell mate to death.
Hearing this story was a somber reminder of the sacrifice that our soldiers past and present have offered as payment in full for the freedoms we enjoy today. The Flag to a great multitude of our Veterans means sacrifice. Thank you everyone and we salute you Senator McCain and all of our Veterans and POWs for your continued public service and love for the country.
Immediately following that, we went to former Supreme Justice Sandra Day O’Connors office and asked her to make the second star. Sandra Day O’Connor is the first woman Supreme Court Justice. She is widely known as an advocate for women’s rights as well as a fair and just person. It was an honor to meet Justice O’Connor and see her hand impression as a Star on the Flag for Hope!
We took a moment to realize that the Flag was getting closer and closer to completion and the Stars are a large part of the final push. The white Stars are standing out brilliantly atop the blue field of American hand impressions. Marcos decided to use a stencil method to keep the Stars crisp. As we packed up the Flag to leave we were on our way to place another Star. This one they call “The Champ”.
So many of us grew up watching Ali in some of the greatest boxing matches in history. The man that Howard Cosell sparred with and announced for, reminds us of what a showman the “Champ” was and still is. We were invited to Muhammad Ali’s house for a hand impression on the Flag. Mr. Ali there became one of the first Stars on Flag for Hope. It was truly an honor to meet him. Many believe Ali to be one of the greatest boxing champions of all time. He is truly a living legend! “To make America the greatest is my goal”, 1960 Olympic American Gold medalist, Muhammad Ali.
There comes a time in every movement, a tipping point, a point when things just start to come together. Ladies and gentleman, this trip will rank as one of those points. The Flag for Hope movement is looking forward to running all the way to 11/11/2015 where we will finish the 50th Star on Veterans Day in Washington, DC! Stay tuned and we’ll keep you in the know every step of the way!
In closing, we would like to leave our readers with this sentiment: These three Stars; Ali, McCain, and O’Connor all have different political beliefs, religious beliefs, personalities and races but they all worked together towards a common vision, in this case the Flag for Hope. We revel in this, the Hope that if people of all races, beliefs, and religions can come together to create a simple American Flag, with open hands of friendship, then let us wonder what else we might dare to do together!