Last Saturday, Crestview resident Wendell Beattie started walking with his American flag toward Tallahassee and arrived in Jackson County Thursday. He plans to take part in an official Flag Day ceremony in the state’s capital city at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Saturday, but will be there at 9 a.m. in case anyone shows up for an informal ceremony he had arranged prior to learning of the official event.
In walking the 150-mile distance with his flag, Beattie is trying to increase awareness of the “Operation American Spring” movement, which he said aims to build a grassroots demand that the federal government operate within the boundaries of power set for it in the U.S. Constitution.
Beattie said he and fellow supporters of the OAS movement feel that the federal government has overstepped its authority in a variety of ways over time.
He was at the May 16 OAS gathering in Washington, D.C., where he and others had expected in the neighborhood of 2 million people to participate. When only about 1,000 turned out, Beattie was surprised and disappointed. He said he’s hoping his walk with the flag will draw more attention to the movement and help it grow.
As he walked through Marianna, two men pulled over to talk to him. One, veteran Ted Jolly, stopped just to thank Beattie for making the effort to put the nation’s flag in the spotlight just ahead of Flag Day on Saturday.
Chattahoochee City Manager Lee Garner also pulled over. Indicating he was familiar with and supportive of the OAS movement, Garner offered Beattie a free place to stay in that city’s campground for as many nights as he wanted as he makes his way on eastward to the capital.
Beattie didn’t know if he’d get there in time to stay the night and still get to Tallahassee in time for the ceremony, but said he appreciated the offer.
“ Operation American Spring was templated after the Arab Spring that occurred about a year or two ago. What happened was that there were people in their countries fed up with the way the government was running things. People rose up and demanded a change. They got a change. They established a new government.” Beattie said though, that he and the OAS are not looking to do that. “Our Constitution is perfectly sound,” Beattie said. “We have a great country and we have a lot of great people. We just need the people who are in government to follow the Constitution.”
He spoke of being troubled by recent controversies involving cover-ups, scandal, the national debt and other matters.
On his trek to the capital, Beattie is carrying about 40 pounds of gear in a backpack, things like extra clothes, a sleeping bag and other on-the-road essentials. He sometimes camps out under the stars and sometimes sleeps in hotels, he said. The flag and flagpole he’s carrying together weigh about 10 pounds. Beattie said he considers it an honor to bear that weight in furtherance of a cause he believes in.