First Responders Honor Vandalized American Flag

Sometimes it’s not about the item itself. It’s about what that item symbolizes.

You could say that about a wedding ring. Or a religious symbol such as a cross. You could also say it about a dove (peace) or a pink ribbon (breast cancer awareness).

The same is true of the American flag. Essentially, it’s a piece of multi-colored cloth. In most cases, the material it’s made of probably isn’t more than a dollar or so.

But what an American flag represents is priceless. It symbolizes sacrifice, honor and freedom. There’s no way to put a value on those things.

Discarded in a Gutter

Chris Edwards certainly feels that way. He’s a former New York City firefighter who was a first responder on a day that will live in infamy.

The selfless efforts he and other first responders displayed on September 11, 2001 helped save lives. And helped unite our country after our enemies attacked us.

Recently, Edwards learned that someone used a box cutter to remove an American flag from an ambulance.

This person then vandalized the flag and discarded it in a soggy gutter. That type of thing doesn’t sit well with Edwards.

Coming From Good Stock

“I felt I had to do something,” Edwards told Fox News. “I’m not going to sit around and let someone do that to the American flag.”

Edwards’ father was a Purple Heart recipient. And his brother served in the Vietnam War. He was taught to honor the flag. This was a chance to do just that.

He and another 9/11 first responder named Tom Lonegan stood at the site where the flag was dishonored. They waved flags for several hours to show their support.

Passersby honked horns, shouted words of encouragement and gave the thumbs up sign to the pair of men.

“If you found the body of a firefighter or officer, you’d wrap the body in the American flag to take them home,” Edwards said.

“It became my mission to not let anyone disrespect that flag. It was freezing. But the way I looked at it was, there are men and women who sacrifice their lives in much harsher conditions defending the flag.”

Running for a Purpose

Of course, there are other ways to show respect for the flag.

It’s not uncommon to see people running on sidewalks and streets these days. It’s a great way to stay in shape. But it is a bit unusual to see someone running while carrying a flag on a pole. Unless you drive around Newport News, Virginia.

In that case, you might have seen 53-year-old Wayne Parfitt doing just that. He runs with an American flag at least once or twice a week.

Why? He’s honoring his son, a 22-year-old soldier currently deployed overseas in the U.S. Army.

‘High and Proud’

“It is important to me because it changes the focus of my time,” Parfitt said. “Not just a training run, but time to reflect, be proud and grateful for all our military.”

Last July 4th, he ran a symbolic 17.76 miles while carrying the American flag. He said that one of his favorite parts of this activity is holding the flag “high and proud.”

He added, “I also feel that many times we drive by a flag, perhaps outside a building or ballpark, never giving it thought.

“To see someone running alone with the flag gets it noticed.”

Spontaneous Patriotism

Other examples of patriotism might not draw a crowd or get as much publicity. But they are just as meaningful.

Such as the two young boys in Roseboro, North Carolina who were observed saluting a flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance outside the local fire department.

After a photo of the scene was posted to social media by the fire department chaplain, comments poured in.

They included, “Thank you to the one that taught them to respect our flag.” And, “As a retired veteran, I can honestly say that this brought tears to my eye.”

Ever-Expanding Flag

It started out as a fairly normal-sized flag. Dawn Barker of Tampa, Florida began knitting an American flag in her spare time to give back to her country.

But as she was knitting, she decided to make it larger than the typical flag. And then larger. And larger.

“One day it just started and I didn’t realize how big it was going to be,” she said. “I didn’t think that it would turn into this.”

“This” is a flag measuring 39 feet by 26 feet. The blue portion alone measures 15 feet by 12 feet.

Flag’s Future Home?

Barker said eventually she will donate the flag to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“This is just my contribution to America,” she said. “That’s all it is. That’s all I’m trying to do.

“Everybody that has served and fought for us and died, it’s not for nothing.”

Barker said she hopes her creation will someday be included in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Tell Us Your Story

There are many ways to honor the American flag. And we’d love to hear your story on how you’ve shown respect for our flag – or have done so in the past.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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