Duane Hapne telephoned a couple of friends to see what they thought of his idea to tie ribbons around trees near the Quantico Marine Corps base to show support for the troops.
“Everybody just kind of got enthused about it,” said Hapne, 49, of Triangle. “All of a sudden it just kind of snowballed.”
“We decided with all the negative stuff going on we wanted to do something positive to send a message to the troops that we support them and hope they come back to us safely,” he said.
Trouble was, Hapne hadn’t checked the local yellow ribbon supply. “After I got everybody enthused about it, then I went out looking for yellow ribbon and nobody had any,” he said.
None of the local stores where one would expect to find ribbon had any. And none expected any for some time, Hapne said.
After scouring Woodbridge and Dale City, Hapne caught a break. “I talked to the ladies at the Hancock Fabric Store,” Hapne said. “They got on the phone right after I left and called their corporate office and district manager.
“They got in contact with the distributor and they got 10,000 yards delivered to the store today,” Hapne said Wednesday shortly after a trip to the store to pick up the ribbon.
Jan Lovitt, of Hancock Fabric in Prince William Square, said Hapne was glad to get the ribbon and her store was glad to get it for him.
“He was ecstatic,” said Lovitt, the store’s assistant manager.
“He went to the other stores in the area, and they were kind of giving him the brush-off,” she said.
Lovitt said she ordered some extra ribbon for the store, just in case the idea catches on.
The remainder of her order, and Hapne’s as well, will arrive soon. Hapne picked up a partial order Wednesday, Lovitt said.
“He picked up 2,000 yards, which was $300,” Lovitt said.
So with a supply of ribbon ensured, Hapne finalized the plans that now include participants from local chapters of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, church congregations and the Marine Corps League.
“We’re going to kind of rally at the intersection of Route 1 and 619 at the commuter parking lot at 10 Saturday morning,” Hapne said. The participants plan to tie yellow ribbons on the trees in the median strip from Interstate 95 down Joplin Road to the entrance of the Quantico Marine Corps base.
“It’s just a grass roots ordinary people getting together to show our support for our men and women in the armed forces,” said Hapne, a woodworker.
The towns of Dumfries and Quantico will also participate, Hapne said.
Tying yellow ribbon around trees as a symbol of anxiously awaiting the return of a loved one became popular in the early 1970s after Tony Orlando popularized the practice in a top 40 song.