Oh Wednesday, June 14, the United States will celebrate Flag Day. This holiday commemorates that day 300 years ago when the Second Continental Congress formally adopted what has become a symbol of freedom, hope, and sacrifice for the citizens of the U.S.A. But for 11-year-old Preston Sharp, it’s just one more day in a year-round commitment to honor our country’s fallen heroes.
Preston Sharp seems like any other 11-year-old boy in the quiet town of Redding, California. But Preston has a peculiar hobby that has brought him to the side of 23,000 graves in Northern California.
While visiting his grandfather’s grave on Veterans Day in 2015, Preston was surprised and disappointed to find that the graves of local veterans like his grandfather were missing flags and flowers. Preston’s mom was surprised at how upset her young son was, but offered him some sage advice. “Son,” she said, “if you’re going to complain about something, you have to do something about it or let it go.”
So Preston decided to do something about it. He began taking odd jobs around the neighborhood so he could start buying flags and flowers for the graves of other veterans in McDonald’s Cemetery. He also started collecting donations and soliciting help from other inspired members of the community. Soon, Preston had moved on from his grandfather’s cemetery to others in the Redding area.
Today, he has reached out to visit cemeteries in other cities in the Shasta, Tehama, and Glenn counties. Community members from each town come out to meet Preston on Sunday mornings when he comes to clean headstones, replace worn and tattered flags, leave flowers, and thank the men and women who sacrificed so much for our freedoms.
Come blustery rain or 100-degree-heat, Preston never misses a day. For him, this is the least he can do since “they were out there in the rain doing their job, protecting us.”
The effort is titled “Flags & Flowers for Vets.” The GoFundMe page has raised nearly $20,000 of the $50,000 goal in the last year and a half. If you would like to join Preston’s effort to “honor veterans every day, NOT just on a holiday,” you can visit www.gofundme.com/8w9wc39h to support the cause through a donation