Between going elbows deep into my own family tree and becoming fully intrenched into the Hamilton soundtrack and Revolutionary War history, somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to sew my own American Flag.
And it's kind of strange because I haven't felt all that patriotic in the past year and a half. As a little girl I helped my grandma make paper poppies for the American Legion Auxiliary (of which I was a member!), I went to Girl's State in high school. I was (almost) voted Most Likely to be a Politician for senior superlatives (but a boy won... i was the only girl in the category). I've watched almost every presidential debate since I was voting age. I love history, learning about past presidents, period dramas - you name it.
But since late 2016, it's all really turned me off. I've always been really vocal about voting and there are issues I feel strongly about, but I also felt like keeping the peace between my friends and family who voted differently. Sometimes I can run off at the mouth in the fury before the second Tuesday in November. I'll admit to that. But this past election felt more personal and created more fractures than ever before. Maybe I wasn't old enough to really feel it, but when the other party would win the presidency in years past, I'd be a little bummed out but not breaking down into tears. And maybe it's all because social media just makes everyone louder and less civil? Or maybe because (some of) those in charge don't set a very good model for respectful discourse? Or maybe being seven months pregnant and feeling hyper protective of my children made me scared to see our culture start crumbling?
That's when I turned off the TV (never plugged it in actually) and logged out of facebook. I turned my attention away from the ticker tape on the bottom of the screen and towards being a good mom to my son and new baby. It was the only way for me to keep it together. Now I find myself needing to find something, anything, to find pride in our country.
So I opened my genealogy charts. When I started tracing my family lines back in time I found at least four direct connections to the Revolutionary War (like my sixth great grandfather Philip Roush - who was at the Battle of Yorktown, no less!!) There's my second great grandfather Carl Schroeder who fought for the Union in the Civil War (and he was an immigrant!). Of course there's Herman Amos Roush who I wrote about a week or so ago and his participation in WWI. Both of my grandfathers served in during World War II - one in the navy, the other as a Merchant Marine carpenter. And then there's the mothers, sisters, wives and daughters who all had leading and supporting roles at home during those times of conflict.
These links to the past gave me a renewed sense of pride for (some parts of) American history. My people played a roll in becoming a new nation, the fight against slavery, and ultimately against the hatred of the Nazis. These are things I can be proud of and these things inspired me to make my flag.
And because I want to be a representative of the America that believes in Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I interpret these ideals to mean the right to live your life with whomever you love, to believe in whatever higher power you feel called to (or none at all), to have autonomy over your body, the freedom to vote in a way that best matches your ideals, to speak freely (both in favor of and against the policies of your government), to be treated equally under the law regardless of your gender or skin color and to pursue happiness in a way that benefits you without causing harm to others. These are the parts of being American that I value and this is part of why I've sewn my own flag.
Last but not least, this year I've set myself a goal of either buying things secondhand or making them myself. I've been slowly updating my front porch (photos soon!) and I felt like an American flag would be a nice final touch. Sure - I could have bought one - maybe even found one at a thrift shop or garage sale - but then I wouldn't have had the pleasure of embroidering the stars or sewing the stripes. Could a great grandmother of mine made such a flag years ago? Would she have stitched her name into the corner? I'm thinking about adding at least my initials in matching thread as the final touch. What an heirloom this might be!
So why did I make a flag? To get patriotic again, remember my ancestors, and to use my hands. And I'm so happy to have it ready in time for the Fourth of July! As for the actual construction, I had initially planned on this being a DIY post, but as I went further and further into the project, I realized I'm unable to write instructions for something this advanced. If you've had a lot of quilting experience I believe it's something you could achieve, but it's not a beginners project. That said, I do have some progress shots below and I've included a little commentary on each one!
I am so proud of my American flag and what it represents to me.