‘They survived, just like our flag does’
Beth Masiado has always taken pride in the American flag and shown the utmost respect for those who work to protect it and everything it stands for. In both times of well-being and times of tragedy, the American flag has held great significance for her.
A few years ago, she joined the organization Stars for Our Troops before branching off to found her own organization, Stars for Our Heroes. Both organizations are devoted to recognizing the men and women who serve this country, but while Stars for Our Troops explicitly recognizes veterans and members of the armed forces, Masiado’s Stars for Our Heroes is all-encompassing.
“I started with Stars for Our Troops, but we don’t have a lot of men deploying from here,” Masiado said. “We have a lot of veterans, yes, but I felt first responders serve our communities every day and they take the oath under the flag, so I started [recognizing] police officers, firefighters, EMS, 911 dispatchers, because they’re very important too.”
Recognized members of these fields of service each receive a pouch from Masiado or other participants with the organization. The pouches each contain a star hand-cut from a donated, old and worn American flag along with Masiado’s poem, which reads, “I am a part of our American Flag. I have flown over a home in the USA. I can no longer fly for the sun and wind have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me with you as a reminder — You are not forgotten!”
“The relevance of it … they serve under that flag, it really hits home with them,” she said. “It’s just a thank you. It’s special.”
After devoting her time to making and distributing these pouches to honor so many, when a flag was salvaged from the house fire of a family member, it tied everything together for Masiado.
“January 15th, my son’s house burned down. He lived on Old Bethlehem Pike and the phone rang at 1:30 in the morning, and [he] said, ‘Mom, our house is on fire,’” she recounted. “They came here, 3:30 in the morning, and all they had left were their clothes and their two dogs.”
When the couple returned to the remains of their house the following day to meet with the fire marshal, they were greeted with a surprise.
“He saved their flag, their American flag. He said, ‘I see you’re patriotic, I thought you might want this,’” Masiado said. “I had it on my front porch and [my son] said, ‘Mom, do not get rid of this, just hold onto it.’”
Several months passed and the charred remains of the flag remained on her porch, until Masiado walked past Girl on the Hill Framing in Bethlehem and had an idea. After speaking with owner Dawn Moser, the two worked together to create a shadowbox.
Like the pouches she hands out to those who serve, the shadowbox also includes a poem: “I was once your American flag… / I flew proudly on the front porch of your loving home. / I can no longer fly for the heat of the flames ended my flying days. / When you look at me now, remember… / I have also endured the worst of times, but I am still here! / Sometimes the most challenging times / …uncover the most beautiful memories.”
“One day they’ll move into their new home and I’ll buy them a new flag and a new flagpole, but they’ll always have that reminder that they survived, just like our flag does,” Masiado said. “Our flag survived a lot of bad times, but it’s still here.”