Oklahoma – October 2, 2015

Oklahoma City Federal Building Flag for Hope

Oklahoma has been a trip that we’ve been looking forward to for several reasons. When the Oklahoma City bombing claimed the lives of 168 Americans, our entire country mourned. We decided that the Flag for Hope Project needed to visit the Oklahoma Federal Building and do our best to invite people that experienced the tragedy firsthand. The picture here includes some of those survivors as well as Veterans from Oklahoma.
Several survivors shared their emotional testimonials while we listened intently to the anguish in their voices. We had to take a few minutes to compose ourselves after remembering the loss of so many Americans. The Memorial and empty chairs located there were a sobering reminder that we need to be vigilant and that life is a gift to treasure. We were honored to hear the stories of people from Oklahoma and their perspective on America. Thank you for adding your painted hand impressions on Flag for Hope.

[caption id="attachment_10150" align="alignleft" width="300"]Josh Leete and Milly Oklahoma Flag for Hope Josh Leete and Milly Oklahoma Flag for Hope

First up was Veteran Josh Leete pictured here with his faithful and beautiful service dog Milly. Josh suffers from PTSD as do so many of our Veterans and Soldiers and Milly helps Josh navigate through the day and offers a calming influence. Josh was so impressed with Flag for Hope he contacted us on our Facebook page and asked if we could contact a fallen soldier’s family as a way to remember his friend.  We were glad to oblige, we made it happen and we’ll be adding these pictures soon. We love when people refer us to others across the country and the stories that are shared and the time we spend with Americans are incredible proud and touching moments. The American spirit is alive and well!

Next we met Charles Russell a 93 year old WWII Veteran and his Richard Russelson Richard Russell. When Charles started to tell us his war stories we were astonished to hear the number of battles he survived.  As he reminisced we could see in his eyes the fond memories of his fallen Brothers. Pictured here is Charles and his son Richard adding their hand impression to the Flag for Hope. Richard was so proud he could bring his Dad to the Flag. We’re sure this is something they will not forget and neither will we!

We also were proud to meet several current Federal Building workers and we were able to meet with and accept hand impressions from Lucas Hinshaw and Darren Heusel.

File Oct 02, 11 36 20 AM We wondered what the Oklahoma City bombing survivors would talk about and when we met survivor Paul Koenig everyone listened intently as onlookers whispered that he was in the building that day. Paul’s message was that of positivity, “Figure out ways to get along and work along with others instead of just focusing on our differences.” We agree Paul and we are so glad you could join us!

Much of what we do is captured on video and still cameras and we would also like to thank videographer Robert Schnetzer for taking the time to cover our Flag for Hope project in Oklahoma. Robert even took a couple minutes to walk from behind the camera to add his impression on the Flag.

Sheila Dimick recorded a wonderful testimonial about what the American Flag means to her. “I believe the Flag is a beacon for the world”, stated Sheila. A worker at the Federal Building and a patriotic American, Sheila articulately and emotionally shared her American story.

A recurring theme mentioned the bombing and we all agreed to take the time to learn about the people that were in the building that day. Please honor survivors requests and take a second to visit this USA Today piece to remember our fallen and view the names of Americans killed in this atrocity.

After leaving the Federal building we couldn’t help but talk in the car about the people we’ve met and the things that we’ve learned about humanity. The human spirit and the ability to bounce back from hardships and challenges are common among Americans but something that humanity shares. These challenges, hardships and losses always seem to bring us together amidst enemy attacks that try to tear us apart.

Our next stop brought us to Olympic Champions Nadia Comenici and Bart Conner in Oklahoma. Many know Nadia and Bart’s story and we are sure you’ll agree that not only are they stars in the Gymnastics world, but they are now Stars on Flag for Hope! Please join us in congratulating Bart and Nadia by joining in on the Twitter conversation we’ve embedded below.

Nadia and Bart Oklahoma Flag for Hope

Nadia and Bart Oklahoma Flag for Hope

To the right is a picture of Bart, Nadia and Dylan at the Olympic Training Center in Oklahoma. Nadia won three Olympic gold medals at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and was the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event. Nadia also won two additional gold medals at the 1980 Summer Olympics. making her one of the best-known gymnasts in the world!

Bart Conner became a member of the gold medal-winning men’s gymnastics team at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games and earned a gold medal on the parallel bars. Conner was also the 1979 World Champion on that apparatus. Bart is also a commentator for gymnastics on TV and an editor of International Gymnast Magazine. Additionally, Conner was part of the 1976 and 1980 USA Olympic gymnastics teams. He won the World Cup in 1979, and the American Cup in 1976, 1980, and 1981. Because of his prowess in gymnastics and teaching our youth, Bart has been inducted into several Halls of Fame, such as the US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, International Gymnastics, and Oklahoma Sports. Together, Bart and Nadia own and operate the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy in Norman, Oklahoma.

Please join us in welcoming these gracious and patriotic Americans to the Flag for Hope Project and for allowing us to add your hand impressions to ours. Flag for Hope supports Unity, Peace and Patriotism and we welcome you to join us!

Oklahoma Photo Gallery
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