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On September 11, 2001 the twin towers in New York were taken down and two thousand seven hundred and fifty-three people died. Yellow ribbons were flown and tied to trees nailed up on houses to demonstrate the depth of emotion that was experienced by just about everyone living in the United States. The yellow ribbon, as a demonstration of support, care and even grief, has a longer tradition than the catastrophic loss of the towers, however, in reality, the use of yellow ribbons skyrocketed after the release in 1973 of a song by Tony Orlando and Dawn.

“Tie a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree”, was the main refrain in that song’s lyrics. The ribbon became identified with having lost someone in the Vietnam war, and then represented those in support of the prisoners of war from that conflict. The ribbons re-appeared and streamed in the wind again following 911, and then again during the Iraqi war and the situation still going on in Afghanistan. The symbol has morphed into usage for a variety of other poignant causes, and loss from circumstances other than war. But the main identity established and maintained by the use of the yellow ribbon remains founded in its use following violent events, and those suffering the results of violent loss.

One local person, a woman who lives alone, and runs her long-time business all on her own, was deeply affected by the events that occurred during and following the attack on the twin towers. She decided to do what she could about it. This kindly and deeply compassionate woman ordered two thousand seven hundred and fifty-three yellow ribbons. Nice ones. Expensive ones. The total tab was just a bit over ten thousand dollars. The ribbons came in boxes. Many of them. The yellow ribbons she ordered have yellow bows with many streamers. They are made of high quality nylon and they remain sealed in the boxes they came in, relegated to this woman’s basement. Originally, the woman was going to buy American flags on poles and sell the flags with the yellow ribbons attached. But she ran out of money. The flags never got ordered. Today, the boxes upon boxes of yellow ribbons remain on shelves in the basement space of the woman’s storage.

Only a lone yellow ribbon noticed by a Geneva Shore Reporter adorning an undecorated Christmas tree in front of the woman’s store gave any hint to the story. The ribbon was placed on the tree to commemorate those lost at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. The reporter went inside to ascertain the meaning of the ribbon on the tree, and the story began to unfold. The ribbon was ribbon number two thousand seven hundred and fifty-three, taken from the very end of the basement collection. The woman indicated that she does not know what to do with the ribbons. She demonstrated, with a nearby American flag on a pole, how the ribbons would look if her original idea had been followed through on. This wonderful woman is named Ruth, and she runs a store many local people know; The Kite Store. It’s located down at121 Wrigley Dr. where Wrigley veers north to become Cook Street just before the intersection at Main.

If you have an American flag, or maybe want Ruth to order you one, then there is little doubt that your request for one of the yellow ribbons to accompany that flag will be met with approval and a loving smile.


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