Returning Vietnam veterans were not given the honor or respect that they deserved upon returning to this country after their time “In Country.” One South Williamsport woman has made it a personal mission to honor of each of her classmates from South Williamsport High School’s Class of 1965 who served in Vietnam by embroidering each of them their own flag, that signifies her gratitude, as well as that of the rest of our country, for their service to our country during an unpopular war.
“My idea came about when I was organizing all my fabrics and was looking for a project to do while watching baseball and golf on tv. I retired from the Williamsport Area High School in 2007 as a Family and Consumer Science teacher with my specialty being clothing and design,” Sharon Stout said. “I found that I had an abundance of Americana and patriotic fabric. So, since I was of the Vietnam era and many of my classmates were veterans of that war I decided I needed to do something to honor all the vets in my high school class from South Williamsport 1965. “
She emailed her classmate who is in charge of all class emails and asked her to ask for names of all those who served in the military. She sent Stout a list of 40 names and she started to make flags, then her husband who is also a veteran said she should find out the ranks at discharge. At that point she decided to embroider the branch of military, rank, and name on all the flags.
“My first goal was Memorial Day but that then became the 4th of July. I mailed them on July 1 and some people who are from this area got them the next day. Others the post office guaranteed that it would be July 5th. The flags went all over the United States and Spain.” Stout said.
“The response from those receiving the flags has been more than I ever expected. Pictures from the vets with the flag popped up all over the 1965 South Williamsport Facebook page with notes of thank you. Many were brought to tears. I have also received notes in the mail from those who thought they had been forgotten. Amazing!
“As for the process, I started by designing a flag and adding a large star and figuring the length of strips I needed to complete it. Then the cutting began. I would cut 10 out at a time and assembling them. As soon as I got ranks I started to embroider them, I have an embroidery machine, and then I began layering the backing, batting, and flag quilt top and quilting the three pieces together.”
Stout said once that was finished she made binding to go around the flag and began hand sewing it on. She said he is fortunate to have a group of ladies that get together every other Thursday, they have been doing it for 40 years, who said they would help hand sew the bindings. She said she would not have made the July 4th deadline if it wasn’t for them. When she started to run out of fabric they supplied her with more.
“Since I started this project, April, I have also made a few extra flags for other military who are very close to me. This is such a satisfying project,” Stout concluded.