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A grand old flag: Local man helps with patriotic labor of love

One painter comments to the other about the lack of a breeze as both stand atop the tin roof of an old barn.

"He'll give us a breeze. He always does," the painter said.

Two retired Glascock County educators have found a way to express their love of their countrymen, of their country, and of being able to believe in their God and their religion.

Creeping through downtown Gibson headed towards Jefferson County on Highway 102, drivers cross two bridges, go into a curve and then wham, an explosion of patriotic color fills their eyes.

Fifty stars and 13 stripes colored in shades of red, white and blue fly against the sky. It is an unlikely sight that has visitors from Glascock County and the surrounding area flocking to the spot to take pictures, honk their vehicle's horns, offering their support and sometimes a helping hand.

Glascock County resident Andy Chalker and McDuffie County resident Bill Seaman are the creators of this larger-than-life tribute to America. What drivers find when they cross that bridge is a 1,650 square-foot American flag painted on the tin roof the barn.

Weather permitting, the men climb up with their paint buckets two to three days a week. For Mr. Seaman, it is just a short drive to their landmark.

It was Crib's Barn, named after Mr. Chalker's father who built it in 1952. Now it is known as Andy's Barn. But the name may soon change to America's Barn with the newfound pride the project has instilled in the community's citizens and even those as far away as Richmond County.

"People stop all the time," Mr. Chalker said. "They blow their horn, take pictures or stop to talk. Some even offer to help paint the flag."

Before Mr. Chalker was a teacher, principal or superintendent of Glascock County Schools, he was in the military for four years. The time he spent defending his country never left him and was an inspiration for his tribute to America.

"I think it is probably the most patriotic thing to do for the men and women in the armed forces," Mr. Chalker said. "It is for all the citizens, but especially meant for those in the military."

Mr. Chalker said painting the flag on the barn was a clear decision to him because of the position and size. The flag itself boasts three-foot high stripes, with each star being two feet from tip to tip.

"Andy called me and said he had an idea," Mr. Seaman, a pastor at Mineral Springs Baptist Church, said. "He said he wanted to paint a flag on the barn and he wanted me to sketch it to scale. I say it worked out to perfection."

Mr. Seaman said that each quarter-inch equaled one foot.

With the correct proportion, it is an accurate depiction of a United States flag. With only a few days of work left on the project, Mr. Seaman said he appreciates Mr. Chalker inviting him along for the labor of patriotic love.

"I am just happy he called me and told me what he was going to do," Mr. Seaman said. "This is just awesome. I am proud to be a part of the idea."

"Well I couldn't think of anything better on a barn than the United State flag," Mr. Chalker added, "as far as patriotism."

The two men began working on the flag in August. During those summer days, the men could stand to be on the hot tin roof for only about an hour.

"There is sweat mixed in (with the paint on) the flag," Mr. Seaman said.

Both Mr. Chalker and Mr. Seaman said they appreciate their wives' (Barbara Chalker and Katherine Seaman) support and the community's in keeping them on the path to finish the flag.

"We have gotten a lot of moral support," Mr. Chalker said. "Barbara and Katherine have kept us propped up. We also appreciate the support of the people saluting, tooting their horns, waving, offering to paint."

"We appreciate that," Mr. Seaman said. "We really do."

Both men hope that those who pass by the flag will come away with just as much as the experience they had painting it.

"I enjoy doing something I hope someone else will get something from," Mr. Chalker said. "When you get to that point, painting this flag on top of this barn represents the greatest liberty and freedom in this world. All the supreme sacrifices Americans have made for that liberty and freedom."

Web posted on Thursday, October 05, 2006

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