Looking out from my office window overlooking the skyline of New York City on September the 11th 2001, I watched history unfold before my very eyes. The sight of the billowing smoke from the World Trade Towers will forever be etched in my memory. But as soon as the Ground Zero ashes had cooled off and the dark clouds of disbelief lifted, a red-hot patriotism started spreading like a wildfire across the country. Nothing could douse it. This fire touched every corner of the country from remote small-town America to the large urban centers.
Americans felt the desire to show their love, compassion and goodwill to their fellow citizens. The flag was the symbol they used to show each other that they could persevere and overcome. Putting down my artist’s pen in favor of the camera, I began in earnest a twenty-year documentary journey to capture this American spirit. I started off snapping photos in my neighborhood, my town, then all across my state, then finally branching out to all regions of the US. Traveling alone, in a rented car, I crisscrossed 45 states in my hunt to discover as many flag tributes as possible. I enjoyed every minute of it—eating at local diners, talking to friendly locals and always finding things that I never expected. I felt an urgency, knowing that a lot of the displays would have a short life span, I wanted to preserve the images for historical purposes. The few years after 9/11 especially represented a unique time in American history.
Americans over the past twenty years have been breaking tradition and respectfully taking liberties with “Old Glory.” The flag is no longer only a piece of fabric attached to a flagpole; it has been freed and untethered. The major reason, after 9/11, they flew off the shelves and sold out. American ingenuity came to the fore. Citizens have transformed the flag to express their patriotic zeal, using personal materials or objects they had on hand. With great imagination and creativity, the flag continues to evolve. The wide range of unconventional materials used are surprising and sometimes amusing; flag painted cars, trees, murals, houses, and even flag tattooed people. Although, you would not know it after listening to the mainstream media, the majority of Americans still love “Old Glory.”
After all these years, I am still finding wonderful flag images and writing the stories behind them. To take a great photo, I remember to keep my focus on God, and then see what develops! Every time I start off on a road trip, I take my camera and Bible and start the morning with a short prayer; “God please protect me on the road and please help me to find beautiful flags today.” More often than not, I am surprised that God actually answered my prayers, and helped me be at the right place and at the right time. To this day, I am excited to see what God has in store for me. I truly feel like that I have been led. Some of my amazing “Godincidences” or “God winks,” are recounted in the following pages.