It's Flag Day, the perfect time to remember the countless men and women who have given their lives fighting for our country under the American flag.
On Memorial Day, we told you how Veterans Funeral Care in Clearwater is helping people properly dispose of their old worn out flags by cremating them with veterans who have died.
That day, their donation barrel was empty. Within a week of our story, it was full and so were barrels all over the Tampa Bay area.
Many times, we see flags flying outside homes or government buildings and these are the ones that mostly get donated when they wear out, but sometimes there's more to the story and only the flag can tell it.
"We can tell since it's what we do when somebody it turning in or retiring an old burial flag," Jim Rudolph said.
As the workers prep the flag for its final moments before disposal, sometimes a story awaits them. "We'll find shell casings in there from a memorial service."
Some notes tell where and when a flag was carried in battle, others are more personal.
"Very often they'll put little love notes in there, this is from my dad's funeral, this is from here or there," Rudolph said.
Regardless of where it came from, Rudolph says the flag is handled with respect before it performs its final act of service.
"It stops everything and they walk around and we all want to see it and sometimes it's hard,” Rudolph said. “These things tell stories and you wonder what have they been through. How did they get this?"
So, whether they get a note that tells the flag's story or simply wonder where it's been, it's hard not to get choked up when you know the countless lives have fought and died under this flag... for our freedom.
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