Ashland Zen Center undertook a Covid Memorial Flag project over the last year which culminated in late October at Segaki (also known as Sejiki). We sewed several thousand little flags made of plain white fabric, each flag honoring one person by name who died of COVID-19. Each flag shared a person’s age, where they died, and something unique about them. The Covid Memorial Flags were on display at Ashland Zen Center for several days in October and our memorial service during Segaki included these names.
For the installation we strung flags at eye level between poles lining the path from our front gate to the Memorial Garden at the back of our land. Visitors were able to walk the length of the installation absorbing the names, and lives, and bearing witness to the unimaginable scale of the Pandemic, one life at a time.
This project began when the United States passed the grim milestone of 100,000 dead. How could we become intimate with this unimaginably large number? We wanted to learn the names of people who had died of COVID-19. To do that our sangha combed through news reports, obituaries, social media and online memorials across the country. We found that learning about one person at a time was a deeply moving experience of connection.
If any Branching Streams sanghas would like to make Covid Memorial Flags, our flag pattern is at https://www.ashlandzencenter.org/covid-memorial-flags/ We also have a limited number of flag-making kits to share. Each kit has white fabric, white cord, bells, names and instructions.
Kigetsu Ramana Waymire and Tendo Stacy Waymire
More press coverage: https://www.mailtribune.com/top-stories/2021/10/22/pandemic-memorial-flag-project-opens/