Proud of Betsy


Proud of Betsy

When they settled the estate of my Fifth Great Grandmother, there was no money to be shared among the descendants. All we have left to share are daily reminders of our grandmother’s prowess as a seamstress for George Washington. Attending church together, George asked Betsy if she would be willing to prepare a national flag for the founders to represent the 13 colonies who had fought for their independence during the American Revolutionary War. 

As a direct descendant of Betsy Ross, all my boys share the middle name of Ross, I’m proud of Grandma Betsy whether she gets credit for being the creator of the flag or not. The efforts of people yearning to change history the way they want it to be told are laughable. I say, 99.9 percent of the time, these same people will not be making good and worthwhile history themselves. Betsy was an amazing businesswoman, owning her own shop and employing others. Betsy was twice widowed and was the mother of five daughters. 

During the University of Pittsburgh’s football glory days, when Dan Marino would toss yet another touchdown pass inside the now deceased Pitt Stadium, he would look into the stands to see a huge handmade Pitt flag, hand sewn by my twin brother Steve and me, waving in the wind with approval. I’m certain that Betsy was happy when she looked down on Pitt Stadium to see her mark still being made, her traits passed on for generations. I would argue that her greatest trait was not that of being a seamstress, it was the perseverance and hard work that sustained her in her life of trials. 

History, good and bad, is worth remembering. If the only statue we can erect in a city square are statues of men and women who are error free and sinless, we will have tons of vacant space in our towns. In Pittsburgh, the closest we have to a saint is Roberto Clemente, #21 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite being one of the best players in major league history, we are most proud of Roberto for his compassion. He lost his life at an early age, during the height of his career, on a mission flight taking supplies to a storm-ravaged Nicaragua. We sadly remember that Sunday morning when Roberto was traded to the “angels”. If someone tears that statue down, they will be thrown into the Alleghany River by a host of proud Pittsburghers from across party lines. 

There is so much anxiety in the world today. The enemy today might be your next-door neighbor, or it could be a politician, or it could be the media you consume. Manipulation of facts, and distortions of truth to support a position or cause are not what should define our nation and become our new normal. 

The concept of tearing down and erasing our history, both good and bad, does not remove the responsibility of individuals and citizens of the great democratic experiment, the United States of America, to point the finger back at ourselves and take a long and hard look into the mirror to see our own ugliness. 

In these challenging times, we should be celebrating those who have endured hard times, and who, through their grace and vision were able to put aside wrongs, focusing instead on the prize out ahead of them.

In Indianapolis, Madam CJ Walker is the epitome of American entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and social activism. Madam Walker is recorded as the first female self-made millionaire in American history. Did I mention that Madam Walker was an African American? Born Sarah Breedlove, Sarah overcame a lifetime of abuse and obstacles to make her fortune and her future. 

She married at age 14 to escape abuse from her brother-in-law and was left a widow with two young daughters at the age of 20. Eventually establishing her business headquarters in Indianapolis, Sarah has been credited with training over 20,000 African American women in salesmanship and helping create generational wealth into a community that was accustomed to fighting evil. A movie titled, “Self Made,” and available on Netflix, tells the story of Madam CJ Walker. Sarah is played by Octavia Spencer, who also starred in “The Help” and “Hidden Figures.”

America is made from strong people who do not apologize for their strength. People who make mistakes and don’t worry about making others cry along the way. America was built on the backs of Betsy and Sarah and Rosie the Riveters. 

It’s time for America to wake up and begin to celebrate all that is good among us and quit looking for the speck in the eyes of others. As for me and my family, we are proud of Grandma Betsy whether she created the flag or not.

Article contributed by:
Jeff Pinyot
Only show results from:

Recent Articles

Send message to

    We use cookies to monitor our website and support our customers. View our Privacy Policy