California to New York City to California; 5,000 mile walk for peace

Armond Young, 50, stands with his bamboo pole adorned with flags and bandanas outside of his motel room at Americas Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Dr. in St. George, Utah, Sept. 7, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — From the side of the road, 50-year-old Armond Young might just look like a man touting his red, white and blue patriotism, but his mission is something more. An idea that sprouted from a dream to change the world through kindness. His journey has led him to walk from California to New York City, and on his trek back to California, he stopped in St. George Sunday.

Young’s mission began in 2007 when he and his friends were sitting on his back porch in Charles Town, West Virginia and Young had just returned from Mexico where he had been visiting and helping families.

“One of my friends looked at me and asked, ‘when are you going to do something for America?’ I got up and grabbed my sawzall and … I had like 10 different bamboo plants … I grabbed one and vrrrr cut off a section,” Young said. “I came back and said, ‘I’m going to walk across America and change the world.'”

From left: Megan Arnold points to her signature and Lydia Arnold signs a flag outside of Young's motel room at Americas Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Dr. in St. George, Utah, Sept. 7, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
From left: Megan Arnold points to her signature and Lydia Arnold signs a flag outside of Young’s motel room at Americas Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Dr. in St. George, Utah, Sept. 7, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

Through every step of his cross-country treks, Young has carried on his shoulder a 6 foot 3 inch bamboo pole, donned with 593 mini American flags, over 200 bandannas from firefighters and fallen soldiers, two medium-sized flags from elementary schools, in which all the children signed, and numerous multicolored peace sign emblems that he’s accumulated along his way.

“It weighs about 65 pounds,” Young said with a laugh.

Black marker inscriptions fill the backs and fronts of the flags and bandannas — altogether, displaying more than 601,000 signatures, making his bamboo pole the most signed object in the world, he said. Of the signatures, 500 are from celebrities like Merle Haggard, Slipknot, Rob Zombie, Korn and Lil Wayne.

Armond Young displays his flags with the patches and props his bamboo pole on his shoulder inside of his motel room at Americas Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Dr. in St. George, Utah, Sept. 7, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Armond Young displays his flags with the patches and props his bamboo pole on his shoulder inside of his motel room at Americas Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Dr. in St. George, Utah, Sept. 7, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“Every signature on the flag is a commitment to do an act of kindness to honor victims of 9/11 and fallen soldiers,” Young said.

He aims to reach 1 million people who pledge to engage in a random act of kindness.

Young also carries with him four huge flags that have been covered with patches that veterans and others have gifted him. He said he plans to sew a giant time memorial quilt.

The passing on of peace began in 2007 when Young walked from the Santa Monica pier in California to ground zero in New York City which he completed in 2009 after taking a few breaks along the way. He set back out on March 20 without a penny in his pocket to make the walk from New York to California.

“I never want to forget the great people I’ve met along the way,” he said. “I have seen a million kinds of people. I’ve seen the best parts of America.”

Steve Sheard, of Olympia, Washington, signs a shirt hanging from the bamboo pole inside of Young's motel room at Americas Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Dr. in St. George, Utah, Sept. 7, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News
Steve Sheard, of Olympia, Washington, signs a shirt hanging from the bamboo pole inside of Young’s motel room at Americas Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Dr. in St. George, Utah, Sept. 7, 2014 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“My mom and my sister were the first to sign the pole,” he said. “They both have passed away now which has only made my dedication stronger. I’m determined to do it. Only 399,000 signatures to go.”

Tonight Young will stay at America’s Best Inn & Suites, located at 245 Red Cliffs Drive in st. George, free of charge per the management – they are also buying him dinner. If you’d like to sign his flags and be part of this movement, Young invites you to his motel room number 226.

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