The Flag Bearer

Al Bean carries the flag at head height in his left hand

Painting Completed 1988
39 x 28 inches, Acrylic on Masonite

This is a painting of me proudly carrying our American flag on the Ocean of Storms in November 1969. Just a few hours earlier, Pete Conrad and I had made man's second landing on the Moon, and now we were busy with the things we had to do on our first moonwalk. This painting brings back a lot of good feelings for me, but it didn't happen exactly as I've shown.

Pete and I worked together to erect the flag. I took the lower section of the flagstaff and hammered it into the lunar surface with the very same hammer that made many of the marks you see in the texture of this painting. While I worked, Pete unfolded the flag, which was attached to the upper section of the flagstaff, and brought it over to where I had hammered in the lower section.

It's easy to paint exactly what happened, how it actually looked. It's not so easy to capture the emotion, the poetry of the event. I don't believe I actually carried our flag as I have shown, but this is the way I felt. Some years ago when I began painting the Apollo adventure, I would not have had the understanding or confidence to create this image. But I knew I was one of the three luckiest members of a team of 400,000 men and women who showed the world that Americans can make the impossible dream a reality when we all dedicate our hearts and minds to accomplish that dream.