Veteran Honors Fellow Vets with Free Flags and Flagpoles

HARTFORD, S.D.-An Alabama non-profit organization honored two Hartford Vietnam veterans Saturday for their service to the country by giving them a patriotic gift. The gift is part of the organization’s mission to thank service men and women for their sacrifice.

It’s a sight you can’t miss at the backyard of Mike Fitzmaurice. The American flag standing tall and waving proudly.

“I still get goosebumps, when they go up,” says Vietnam Veteran and Medal of Honor Recipient, Mike Fitzmaurice, about the American flag being raised.

Still, to this day, Mike still gets the chills because the meaning behind the flag is something he holds dearly to his heart. 

“I enlisted right out of high school in 1969 and went to Vietnam in 1970,” says Fitzmaurice.

Jim Siemonsma can also relate, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1966 and also went to Vietnam. Then there’s Jamie Popwell, a former Marine, the three men don’t know each other, but they share a common story. They are all veterans, who hold the American flag close to their heart.

“This is a very special gift to those, who completely understand, what the U.S. flag represents and those that fought underneath that flag,” says Founder of Flags for Vets, Jamie Popwell.

That flag is why Popwell is in South Dakota. He made the trip from Alabama just to give Fitzmaurice and Siemonsma a symbol of freedom, they once fought for. He continues to do the same for other veterans by installing free flagpoles and flags. He does this through his non-profit organization called Flags for Vets. Popwell says this simple gesture is his way of thanking the men and women, who made the ultimate sacrifice

“They serve the country and they don’t really want the recognition, but it makes someone feel so much better; if you just go and thank them for their service,” says Popewell.

A simple gesture with a special meaning.

“I just felt that was the right thing to do for the country. They give you so much, that you should give a little back,” says Fitzmaurice

Fitzmaurice is the seventh Medal of Honor recipient that Popwell has gifted the flag too. Popwell started his organization this January, so far he has supplied 143 veterans with free flagpoles and flags. This is the 14th state he has visited, his next stop is Ohio. He says his goal is a have a chapter in different states.

All of the materials to install the flags are sponsored or donated. Anyone can nominate or sponsor a veteran for the award. For more information on how to do that, you can visit the organization’s website  or Facebook page

Categories: Community, Education, Local News, News

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