SIKESTON -- Yellow ribbons are making a comeback in the nation as well as the area as Americans continue to show their support for troops and the nation.
"We haven't been selling many flowers, but we've sold a lot of yellow ribbons," noted Tammy Burford, a florist at Sikeston Market Place Florist. "I had a lady come in the other day and buy some ribbons and she said her sister, who lives in Memphis, Tenn., has 42 yellow ribbons in her yard."
The custom of hanging yellow ribbons was popularized two decades ago during the Iran hostage crisis and took hold during the Persian Gulf War.
Although it would take her nearly all day Friday, Helen York said the cause is well worth her time to make the 35-40 preordered yellow ribboned-bows. She said she's even received an order of 34 yellow bows for a lady who is going to put them on the pews at her church.
"Around Sept. 11 people were wanting the red, white and blue, but now they're asking for the yellow ribbons," said York, the owner of Helen's Florist in Sikeston.
York, who's been in the floral business for 37 years, said she remembers people purchasing ribbons during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. " But it's nothing compared to what we're selling right now. We've probably already made over 100 yellow bows," she added.
Retailers Kmart and Wal-Mart said they have seen nationwide increases in the demand for yellow ribbon and American flags.
It's possible the patriotism that was sparked by Sept. 11 may have something to do with the increased patriotism now, York pointed out.
Florists in New Madrid and Charleston are also picking up business in the yellow ribbons department.
"Right now we're making about 12-14 a day and we've even ran out of ribbon," said Terri Wilmurth, owner of Terri K's Heartland Florist in Charleston. "I guess more people are getting behind the troops."
Sandra Cope of the Corsage Shop in New Madrid said a couple of the shop's ribbon suppliers have hinted that if the florists' want more yellow ribbon, they need to order now. "One of our suppliers is completely out of outdoor yellow ribbon and another local supplier suggested we stock up a bit because there's a short supply of yellow ribbon," Cope explained.
The florists said they've got several sizes and styles of bows available for trees, houses, mailboxes, etc., and prices vary. However, Park View Florist and The Flower Patch in Sikeston are giving away yellow ribbons for an uncertain amount of time. The florists also recommend preordering the yellow ribbons and bows, but said walk-ins are welcomed.
All of the florists agreed they're happy the area is supporting the troops, especially Wilmurth, whose husband is currently stationed at Fort Leonardwood and is expected to leave for Kuwait soon.
"We need to support our troops and pray everything's going to be alright," Wilmurth said.
Some say the origins of the yellow ribbon tradition trace back to the Civil War; others say it started with the wife of Bruce Laingen, ambassador to Iran during the hostage crisis. She tied yellow ribbon around an oak tree in her front yard after Laingen and others were taken hostage in 1979.
Wilmurth said she, too, has several yellow ribbons tied around trees in her yard.
She added, "And they won't come down until my husband comes home."