John F. Kennedy famously said, Ask not what your country can do for youask what you can do for your country." That is Carol Hotaling's favorite quote and one she says she lives by.
"It's very important to give back. You need to be doing something for someone, you can't just take everything in and not give back," said Hotaling, of Clifton Park. "That's why I make yellow bows."
Known as the "Yellow Ribbon Lady" for more than 20 years, Hotaling has made hundreds of thousands of yellow ribbons to honor and remember the troops"safely home, overseas or lost in action.
"I make yellow ribbons so people will remember our troops. I think people forget too fast," said Hotaling, who is working with Congressman Scott Murphy to have April 9, the local Yellow Ribbon Day, officially on the national calendar.
Hotaling is in the process of making ribbons for Friday, June 11, when the Patriot Guard Riders will ride 150 motorcycles from Flynn Brothers Funeral Home in Schuylerville to the national cemetery, escorting unknown soldiers as part of the Missing in America Project, a national effort that identifies and inters unclaimed remains of veterans.
While Hotaling hasn't dealt directly with a relative serving in the military, she said she's made helping the troops her passion for a very basic reason.
"I'm very grateful to live in a free country. If it wasn't for our troops we wouldn't have the freedom we have, although we don't have as much as we used to, but I mean as far as terrorists not being here and all that stuff," said Hotaling. "I feel bad for the families because so many lives have been lost."
Her empathy for military families began when she saw Monica Bell standing on the front porch of her home during Desert Storm. Bell had a son, home now, that served on the front lines and she had organized an effort to send packages overseas. Hotaling got involved and has continued ever since.