Making ribbon pins is his tie to soldiers

April 24, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

Tony Orlando crooned about tying yellow ribbons around oak trees. But Clyde Bartles has taken the ribbon idea to an art form.

Bartles makes patriotic ribbon pins, the sort that fit neatly on a lapel. Some have a yellow background, in honor of the servicemen and servicewomen who haven't come home from war. All have an abundance of red, white and blue.

He makes them by the score - and then gives them away.

"I've always liked to do things for people," he said.

And the ribbons are something he does not only for the people who wear them, but in memory of a daughter who served in the military.


"She loved her flag," he remembers.

Twenty-year-old Jackie Sue Bartles was a North High graduate serving in the Army in Germany in 1987, he said. In June of that year, her mother, Linda, suffered a heart attack, and Jackie Bartles came home.

"While she was home, she worked out of the recruiting office," her father said.

While on an assignment at Fort Meade, Jackie Bartles was killed in an automobile accident.

"I miss her today," Bartles said. "I've never forgotten her."

He said Jackie Bartles was loved by her military family in Germany, too.

"They put up a monument to her in Wiesbaden," Bartles said. "And we still communicate with a lot of her friends."

For a while, Bartles gave away angel pins. But after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he said, "I was just sitting here wondering one day what I could do."

He started making the ribbon pins and gave them away at restaurants, offices, everywhere.

"I gave thousands of them away," he said. "And when the war started, I started making them again.

"I've always loved my flag and my country. I display my flag 365 days a year. I love living in a free country; I see how other people have it. I would die for my country."

In addition to the ribbons, his pins feature various patriotic symbols - stars, flags, the Liberty Bell. He was using the Statue of Liberty, too, but stopped because he's "a little perturbed" with the French.

Wherever he goes, he takes a bag of pins along to give away. People have offered to buy bags of them for various activities, but Bartles "won't sell them. I tell them I'll make some and give them a bag of them."

Some people have given him money anyway. When that happens, he donates the money to charity.

"I just enjoy seeing the expression on the faces of the young men and women when I give them the ribbons," he said. And he said he'll keep making the pins "as long as these old fingers can make them."

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