When a garbageman spotted an American flag thrown in a trash can, he wasn’t going to let get thrown in his truck. He wanted to dispose of it properly.
And it was all caught on camera… by the person who mistakenly threw it out.
Don Gardner spends hours picking up garbage in Emery and Carbon counties in Utah, and while he’s been known to stop and bring elderly residents’ trashcans to the street, he doesn’t stop for much more.
Unless he spots a familiar pattern, the stars and stripes.
“I took an oath once to defend this country and our flag, and I still do,” he told KSTU. “A lot of people died protecting that flag and fighting under that flag. A lot of blood’s been shed so that we have the freedoms that we have today.”
Gardner, a Marine Corps veteran, said it makes him mad when he sees an American flag thrown in the garbage.
This isn’t the first incident. In his 11-year career as a trash collector, he’s saved at least a dozen flags.
“Makes me mad,” he said. “I get angry. Sometimes it’s a mistake. Most of the time, it’s on purpose. I have a problem with that, so I just take it out take care of it.”
As it turns out the person who disposed of the flag Gardner stopped for happened to be watching him.
“He pulls up, he gets out of his truck, and I’m thinking, ‘What is he doing?,’” Brooke Cowley said. “And then immediately, I was so embarrassed, like, oh my gosh, I was petrified, because I’m married to a veteran. What am I doing?”
Cowley proceeded to watch Gardner take the flag she accidentally threw away while cleaning up over the Easter weekend. She recorded him and shared the video on social media to show her community “what he did, and to see the care and love that he gave our flag.”
“I wanted them to see and to give him the respect that he gave to our flag.”
For those looking to dispose of an old American flag, Gardner said he’ll be happy to take care of it or educate you. But if you’re not located in either Emery and Carbon county, Utah, an American flag should be “be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning,” according to the U.S. Flag Code.
Organizations like the American Legion, the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts will also collect flags and properly retire them. You may also be able to dispose of an American flag at your local fire station.
Thank you, Don for showing respect to our flag!
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