Incredible Journey For Homemade American Flag Ends At CSU

COLUMBUS -- After a stunning journey that included a trip to the Pentagon for a national Flag Day ceremony and an emotional visit to PS#142 Amalia Castro Elementary in New York, the 'Blanchard Flag' now resides inside Columbus State University's Lumpkin Center.

The flag, created by Blanchard Elementary School students in response to the attacks at the World Trade Centers in New York, has become a much-heralded monument to patriotism, love and caring, expressed visually through the unique touch of children.

Its details are inspiring and its size is overwhelming. Students decorated 12-by- 14-inch panels and President George Bush and former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani signed two of the stars. Sewn all together, the pieces create a flag almost 25 feet tall and 40 feet wide.

It was raised for the last time during a special ceremony Feb. 26 at CSU's Lumpkin Center, between the women's and men's basketball games. The event should begin about 7 p.m.

'We are extremely honored to have this piece of history here at Columbus State University,' said CSU President Frank Brown. 'This flag has become a national treasure, and a symbol of the true American spirit that glowed so brightly in the aftermath of that terrible tragedy on Sept. 11, 2001.'

Michele Boyd, mother of two boys at Blanchard Elementary School, came up with the idea of a giant flag after her 7-year-old son watched firefighters hang an American Flag on the side of the Pentagon, which was also attached that day.

Boyd took squares of fabric to the school and each student was asked to decorate their square with whatever was in their heart. From that simple idea was created a stunning and emotional work of art that Boyd says has elicited smiles and tears at the same time from people all over the country. Some students drew intricate pictures, such as the flag with eyes that are crying, some wrote poems and some created very individual works, such as the girl who used her father's Army patch.

'They could do whatever they wanted to do, but they could not use the word 'hate' in any form. After all, hate is what caused this awful event to take place,' Boyd said. 'What I got back a week later was unbelievable.'

Even Boyd was stunned at the final product, but never envisioned what would become of the students' creation. After local dignitaries saw it, Congressman Mac Collins was able to see the flag and arranged for a star to be signed by the president. Giuliani signed his star during a speaking engagement in Atlanta.

Boyd contacted the school board in New York to partner Blanchard Elementary with another school there because she wanted 'the students to see that they were loved by other children their same age, who shared the same feelings they did.' Eventually, students, family and the flag traveled to New York City for an emotional visit to PS#142 Amalia Castro Elementary School one mile from 'Ground Zero.'

Their next major trip was to Washington, D.C., where the flag was seen on national television when it hung on the Pentagon during Flag Day last year. Because it was raining that day, some of the original artwork was lost.

Boyd said she thought a long time about where, and if, the flag should finally end up on permanent display. She considered many locations and even had an offer from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. She was urged to protect it, cautioned to keep it in the dark to preserve the colors and warned against anyone touching it.

But in the end, Boyd said she wanted it on display permanently, in a place where people could see it and touch it, where the students who created it could come and look it over and where it could be seen in its entirety, and up close.

When offered, CSU officials immediately agreed to hang it in the Lumpkin Center. Eventually, plans include a plaque and a flier about the flag, also on permanent display, with some detailed pictures of the flag and its history.

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Contact: Michele Boyd (706) 563- 1861