Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

February 4, 2013

The story of a special flag

By Gelene Simpson
Corsicana Daily Sun

— My parents had a saying about doing things before the proper time. They said it was like “putting the cart before the horse.” I must confess that I have a tendency toward this shortcoming. The Bible itself urges us to be patient and wait upon the Lord. But I often seem to get carried away with some project and become entangled in my own web of circumstances when I should be waiting for a cue from the Almighty.

So what if I “just do it” or “make it happen,” so to speak, it doesn’t count for anything if the Lord doesn’t build it. I know this intellectually, but have difficulty in the practice of what I know.

An example of this situation is what happened when I became very interested in a project of creating and presenting a Braille flag from James Blair Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution several years ago. I ordered the flag kit advertised in the DAR materials I received, but no one, including me, had the time and/or the know-how to set the pieces together. The individual stripes and stars would have to be of varying textures and be raised along the outlines of the stars and stripes so that a person could feel them and visualize mentally the way Old Glory looked to sighted people.

Finally, I asked a very talented lady who did professional embroidery (Lolly’s Embroidery) if she would undertake the project. I am so grateful that she consented and actually provided materials that had even more possibility of appealing to the touch of sensitive fingers than did the original kit.

So far, so good. She did an exquisite job of rendering the Stars and Stripes, and I put the replica in a hard plastic protective but removable cover so that the flag could be either displayed or taken out and enjoyed by the visually impaired when they handled it.

I asked here and there for some place to donate the flag. Many places stored artifacts of various types or displayed all kinds of items in showcases or on walls, but the little Braille flag didn’t seem to fit anywhere. Beginning to get discouraged, I took the flag home and laid it aside for a time.

In the meantime, I began to spend a great deal of time at the Dallas VA Hospital in the Spinal Cord Unit where my husband was receiving treatment. When September 11 changed all our lives and the flag began to fly everywhere in earnest, my  Braille flag came to mind.

James Blair Chapter, DAR, like all other chapters takes pride in doing service for veterans. It occurred to me that the little flag was close to finding a home. So I put the flag in the clear plastic case in a larger plastic bag and placed it on the back seat of my car, thinking that I would take it into the VA hospital on my next trip; but, having many things on my mind, I forgot about the flag again.

Every time I would unload the car on returning home, I would realize that once again I had not found a special spot for the flag. But on the day of the Thanksgiving dinner in the big dining room of the Spinal Cord Unit, something happened that gave me a special inspiration concerning the Braille flag.

When I carried my plate of turkey and trimmings to a table where I recognized a nurse and veteran volunteer from the unit, there was also a very nice gentleman there who, unknown to him at the time, made the pieces of my “where to” puzzle begin to fall into place. The special way he sensed where the food was on his plate was my only clue at the time.

The more I thought about him, the more I felt that I was about to get my project done at last. That day I marched into the PVA Office (paralyzed veterans) and presented the flag to the hospital.

Later I saw the veteran who had inspired me as he and his volunteer friend were leaving for the day, and noticed the white cane he used. At that moment I thought of the Lions Club White Cane projects, and my conviction became very strong that I had to tell him what I had done and that he had been my inspiration. I think he may have wondered what in the world had gotten into this lady he didn’t know who was telling him such a long story about a flag.

But, like the doctor who received the flag from me in the Administrative Office, this gentleman voiced his appreciation and seemed genuinely pleased.

Later, I learned that the veteran who had inspired me was Bill Dixon of Garland, a volunteer himself on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the office of the Blinded Veterans Association. Thinking that I should let the PVA know that the Vision Impairment Office would be the place for the flag, I found that it had already been sent over to Vance Wilson, who was in charge of that office. Mission accomplished at last! Thanks be to God!

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Gelene Simpson is a Daily Sun columnist. Her column appears on Tuesdays. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com