Voices

Flag Museum finds new home at Pines Cemetery

Dale Ryan, a member of the Sons of The American Revolution, volunteered over Memorial Day weekend at the flag museum.
Dale Ryan, a member of the Sons of The American Revolution, volunteered over Memorial Day weekend at the flag museum.

Spokane’s Flag Museum has a new location at Pines Cemetery.

The museum, sponsored by the Sons of the American Revolution and the Fairmount Memorial Association, details the rich history of the American flag.

“Hopefully people come in and learn about flags,” said Stan Wills. “And learn about our history and get interested in it.”

Wills is a historian and member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He founded the museum.

The museum has replicas of historical flags, including George Washington’s command flag, Sons of Liberty, War of 1812, Confederate Army and Don’t Tread on Me.

“We’ve had 27 different versions of our flag since 1795,” Wills said.

He has a story for each of the flags exhibited. One such story involves the commission of Betsy Ross and how the flag came to have the five pointed stars.

“When they came to her to make a flag for our country, they wanted six-, seven- and eight-pointed stars,” Wills said. “She had five daughters and she said, ‘Look, gentlemen, my daughters can cut these stars out for me with one cut of their scissors.’ ”

Wills enjoys demonstrating Ross’ method of making a five-pointed star.

“That is how our flag ended up with a five-pointed star instead of a six-pointed star,” Wills said, pulling apart a piece of paper with a star he cut.

Wills plans to change out the flag displays periodically. The collection currently has 95 flags.

“We change it up so people will come back to see what we’ve got,” Wills said. “We try and do that every other month.”

The museum originally opened five years ago in the Rock Chapel at Fairmount Cemetery. It had grown out of Wills’ desire to educate the public about the flag – something that became a passion after he set up a booth 12 years ago at the Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show to promote the Sons of the American Revolution.

“When kids came by I would ask them a question” about the history of the flag, Wills said. “Because of the lack of general knowledge about the American flag by the public, I said we need to do something about this, this is terrible.”

Wills started putting on programs for schools and service organizations and focused on educating his audiences about flag history. When he started the program he had six flags. His collection quickly grew to more than 25 flags.

“Each time we did a program we added more flags to the collection,” Wills said. “It became hard to do a program bringing in 25 to 30 flags.”

When Fairmount Memorial Association purchased Pines Cemetery last June, Rob Goff, Pines Cemetery family service representative and fellow SAR member, facilitated the relocation of the museum to a building at the Pines location.

“When I came out here it was perfect,” Goff said. “We can have it open every day the office is open.”



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