ANSLEY–American flags are waving this time of year as we remember those who have served and died for our country. And just in time for Memorial Day, a new flag proudly displays its colors in Ansley near the veterans memorial wall off Main Street. These stars and stripes take the form of a hand painted mural.
Multiple people joined forces to plan, create, and bring to life the red, white, and blue as a way to honor our nation’s military. Ansley Lumber and Supply owners Heidi and Brian Beaumont, former Ansley art teacher Pat Hoblyn, current Ansley art teacher Kalla Sawyer, and Litchfield art teacher Allison Varah took advantage of the nice weather this week to get the job done.
Pat Hoblyn worked in Ansley for 43 years teaching art, physical education, and coaching volleyball throughout the years. She lives on a ranch southeast of Ansley and continues to paint during retirement. She and her art students created the previous mural about 10 years ago.
The former mural had detailed depictions of Iwo Jima, a bald eagle, a military flyover, and of course, stars and stripes.
“My art kids did it and I suppose it was 10 years maybe and we had several sessions. We painted two murals and that was it for that year. And then we painted two more to finish out the wall. And then we tried to do the touch up and that was really hard, it was starting to chip off. [Time to] make it fresh and update,” Hoblyn said.
Both Hoblyn and Beaumont said there had been attempts to touch up the mural but years of wear and tear proved it was time to start fresh.
“I talked to Mrs. Hoblyn about how we could incorporate her into the project and kind of have the art teachers work together on this and see if we couldn’t come up with refreshing the look a little bit,” Beaumont said.
While many of these ladies happen to be art teachers, the real thing they all have in common is the desire to support and show pride for their beloved community. All of the paint and supplies were donated and everyone volunteered their time.
Allison Varah hoped to include local students in a fourth quarter project but COVID-19 changed those plans.
“She [Heidi] had been talking with Kalla [Sawyer] and I about what we could do with our students and incorporate them with their ideas and have it be a really fun fourth quarter project and bring them out for a few days of painting and then the coronavirus took that from the students,” Varah said.
Despite not being able to incorporate their students, the group still wanted to complete the job in time for Memorial Day, especially since Ansley’s annual Memorial Day ceremony and dinner had to be canceled this year due to COVID-19.
“We want to do this as a thank you to our veterans. I have many family members that have served in the military so it really touches my heart to be able to do this for the community so I just think it’s important for us to take this time to remember the veterans,” Sawyer told KCNI/KBBN.
The group decided the best way to thank veterans was by choosing to display the American flag.
“I think it’s a simple piece–I mean it’s not once you start painting it–but I feel that the beauty of it doesn’t take away from the [veterans] memorial itself so I feel like it was a solid choice to pick a flag,” Kalla Sawyer said.
Leah Nelson will begin as the Anslemo-Merna art teacher this fall and she also contributed to the mural along with Ansley student Hannah Speer. (The art teachers even trusted reporter Emily Barnett with a paint brush!)
Citizens of all ages will be able to appreciate this beautiful depiction of Old Glory each time they drive through Ansley.
“Since beginning on the mural and having people drive by with a thumbs up as they watch our progress it has made me more and more grateful to be a part of this. This is a hard time for our nation and community and it is awesome to be able to do anything that might lift people up. There are a lot of people in our country, myself included, that are inspired by our nation’s flag waving in the breeze,” Varah said.