When you go thrifting, going to yard sales, or flea marketing, you’re always hoping in the back of your mind that you’ll find that one little thing that may change your life. Sometimes though, you may end up finding something that will change the life of someone else.
This is exactly what occurred for a couple in Texas who bought a simple American flag at a flea market. When Walter Brown glanced at the flag he knew there was something special about it. The couple were there to shop for a holster for Lanie’s new Walter P22 pistol, but it was a pile of flags they ended up being drawn to.
Walter called Lanie and said “come look at this”, shortly after sifting through them. It turned out he’d made quite the find indeed …In Walter’s hands was an old flag covered in writing, so the couple began to read.
The words on the white stripes were for a fallen lance corporal. One of the messages read: “Fred, you were a good Marine and we will always remember you,” whilst another said: “Hey CHEEKS, wherever you are, make sure you watch over us.”
Lanie recognized the rank as specific to the Marines, as her son and son-in-law both served with them. Their sons explained to her and Walter that it was a “tribute flag” they had, which should have been included in a package to the Marine’s family after having been signed by all the other members of his platoon.
The Browns determined that the flag was for Fred Lee Maciel, a 20-year-old Marine who was lost his life in action in Iraq in 2005. As the proud father of a Marine himself, Walter knew that he would want to have this keepsake if anything had ever happened to his son in the line of duty.
They tracked down Fred’s mother, Patsy who losing her son in a helicopter crash, years previously. She received a message telling her Walter and Lanie had something she would want.
Such an important gift couldn’t simply be sent by air mail or mainstream delivery, so they decided to present it to Patsy by hand.
“Patsy, our family feels so honored to have been chosen to find this flag,” Lanie told Fred’s mother, as the tribute flag was handed over. “Thank you for sharing this piece of your boy with us.”
The two held a firm embrace in front of family members and loved ones at the grave of the fallen Marine. Fred had been one of 31 American servicemen killed in a crash 220 miles west of Baghdad.
Although Patsy had received her son’s effects soon after his passing, the tribute flag never arrived.“It’ll be with me ’til I die,”she said, upon receiving the flag.
“It was a simple twist of fate it wasn’t someone else finding a flag meant for me and my husband. This is a piece of my son I’m getting back. It’s a great feeling.”
Although it might only seem like a small gesture, what Walter and Lanie were able to do for Patsy must have felt amazing.
Take a look at the video, to see the reaction the mother as she is given this important tribute:
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