Chris Edwards, a New York City firefighter who was a 9-11 first responder, saw a Facebook post about an American flag that was cut out of an ambulance then vandalized and callously discarded in a gutter.
“I felt I had to do something,” Edwards told Fox News. “I’m not going to sit around and let someone do that to the American flag.”
When Edwards was a child, his father received a Purple Heart Award, and his brother was the only member of his friends to return from Vietnam alive.
So he wanted to figure out a way to honor the flag.
The retired firefighter, along with his friend Tom Lonegan, a veteran and also a 9-11 first responder, went to the site on Tuesday and waved American flags for several hours to show their support of the flag and their country.
Edwards said he hoped that the person who vandalized the flag would walk by and recognize the sign of resiliency.
“If you found the body of a firefighter or officer, you’d wrap the body in the American flag to take them home,” Edwards said. “It became my mission to not let anyone disrespect that flag.”
The retired firefighters said they did not care that they were carrying out their patriotic display in one of the most liberal areas of New York City, the East Village. But they said they got mostly positive responses.
“We had people beeping horns, cheering, and giving us thumbs up,” said Mr. Edwards. “Someone said ‘God bless America,’ and one older guy even came by in a MAGA hat.”
Edwards claimed that while he engaged in conversation with the man in the MAGA hat, he caught some dirty looks from younger men passing by. But he said that was the worst response they received.
Lonegan noted that he stood on the corner for around three hours, while Edwards stayed for around five.
“It was freezing,” Edwards said, “but the way I looked at it was, there are men and women who sacrifice their lives in much harsher conditions defending the flag.”