The Day I Got A Flag

I didn’t own a flag and then one day, a troop sent me one from a combat zone as a heartfelt, “thank you.” As July 4th approaches, and more flags adorn more places, I thought I’d share the story of how I got mine.

No outdoor space

I live in an apartment building in NYC. While some people do have yards or balconies, I do not. Hanging things outside your window, many stories above unsuspecting pedestrians, is frowned upon here more than large sodas. Living vertically means certain safety considerations. When I lived in the suburbs we had a flag on the porch. But the porch stayed with the house. When I crossed the city line, owning a flag never crossed my mind.

“You have a package from Afghanistan”

In my volunteer experience, emails are easy to exchange but letters are mostly from here to there. So if I got correspondence, “from the sandbox” I was very touched. On this particular day I was not only surprised to have a package, but by the contents as well.

At times, troops will have flags flown at bases or in this case, carried aboard aircraft, in honor of someone. It’s a way to say thanks. I never knew about this tradition until that day.

I had been pen pals with an Airman and before he came home, he decided to do this for me. It seems that sharing funny stories about my daughter Sofia and the care packages we sent had helped him through a difficult period and painful losses. But because he never shared what he was going through at the time, I had no idea how much the little things we did meant to him. Then I opened the box.

Flag flown in combat, in Afghanistan. Gift from an Airman.

When I held the flag in my hands I was very moved, thinking about where it had been and his reasons for sending it. Underneath it, I found this certificate. The words “combat mission” made something I know is serious and dangerous, seem even more real. And, as always, made me wish for an outbreak of world peace. Seeing the words, “for Gina and Sofia” also struck me. We were strangers that wrote to him through Soldiers’ Angels. Yet he and all the others, “do what they do” for people they love and for the vast majority of us that they do not know and will never meet.

flag certificate from combat zone

(names blurred for privacy)

Happy Independence Day

Beach, barb-b-que, red, white, & blue cupcakes, fireworks, I wish you a happy holiday whatever you’re doing. I also thank our troops everywhere for helping ensure we can celebrate our country’s birthday yet again. I thank them and their families for the freedom to enjoy days like this with our own families. And, while my flag still remains indoors, I’m very grateful to have it.

© Gina left the mall, 2013

16 thoughts on “The Day I Got A Flag

  1. It’s a terrific way for him to thank you. And thanks for mentioning Soldier’s Angels. They currently have lots of soldiers waiting for adoption. I just adopted my second (the first one is coming home)…. and it’s a BOY!!

    • Suzanne, I’ve found being an “angel” very rewarding. I’m sure you have too. Thanks for sharing your great news! Another one home safe is a wonderful feeling and congrats on having a boy! 🙂

  2. What an honor to have that flag. And what a wonderful gift from one patriot to another. Someday you may have a porch or balcony to hang it from and you will look at it with pride for a whole lot of reasons. Happy Independence Day!

  3. Where did you end up hanging the flag? Is it frowned upon to display it on a wall? Just curious. Anyway, another great story. Boy, if that flag could talk…
    Happy 4th of July to you and Sofia!

    • Indoors would be okay but I’m limited on large expanses of FLAT wall space (bump-outs for pipes, windows, etc.) I thought about framing both the flag and certificate, but part of me would love to have it hanging. So right now it’s folded in a triangle on a special shelf. After the holiday I’ll put it back in the box to protect it. And if that flag could talk there would be a pretty amazing follow-up post 🙂 Happy 4th to you and all your boys!

  4. I think it’s a very fitting acknowledgement for all you do to help our soldiers and hope that by sharing your stories more will join in this activity.

  5. Great story. I have a flag like that. We have it hanging on the wall in the hallway. I love the fact that this flag flew on a mission over there. Every time I walk down the hall I think of my son and how happy I am that he is home and safe. All three of my sons were in the service and I cherished every gift they sent me. Those gifts made me feel like I was connected in a small way to their life wherever they were..

    • Nana,
      The fact that the flag was there with him and now here with me, it does make me feel connected in a way I didn’t before. And I can’t even imagine how much the emotion would be increased if he were a family member to me. I’m glad you have yours hanging in your home, a comforting and happy reminder that your son is home safe. I thank you and your entire family for all you have done and wish you a wonderful 4th!

  6. My husband flew one for me from his very small hospital building from his very small fob in Iraq last deployment. It had never been done before, and I LOVE IT. We also had one flown at the Pentagon at the request of the commander we both worked under while he was stationed there, because that’s where we met and married….so that one is also pretty cool for us to have too, dedicated and all.

    • It’s wonderful that your husband did that for you. And very thoughtful that your commander requested something so special for you both. I’m sure when you look at these flags, the feeling is pretty cool and then some! 🙂

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