Don Gardner, a sanitation worker in Utah, said he was simply going about his business when he retrieved a discarded American flag from the garbage and folded it before continuing to work. However, Brooke Cowley, who captured the scene on camera, showed her pride.
Gardner, a Marine Corps veteran, said flatly that when he noticed the flag in a garbage bin, he “just stepped out and took care of it.” He stated it wasn’t the first time he’d pulled over to pay respects to the flag.
“I’ve done it before,” he stated on Fox News. “I just got caught this time.”
After a wind storm swept through, Cowley told anchor Ainsley Earhardt that the flag was mistakenly thrown away. She also tossed the broken flag in an effort to tidy up the yard and remove debris.
“I didn’t even realize what I had done,” Cowley stated. “I’m actually married to a veteran. I just had a moment of brain fog.”
The next day, Cowley’s children were doing homework at home when they noticed Gardner folding the flag. When Cowley understood what she had done, she felt “sheer embarrassment.”
Gardner’s appreciation for the American flag, as well as the time he spent honoring it, made her proud. “It was really a moment of peace and comfort,” she said. “It was really humbling to see Don do that.”
Cowley said the experience affected her entire family, and her children asked if they could repay him. The following week, the family gave Gardner a challenge coin, which many veterans collect.
“It’s a moment that we will remember forever,” she stated. “We’re so thankful for his service and what he gave to our family and our community.”
Cowley saw America’s divisions and pushed people to model after Gardner. “A lot of people died under that flag to protect our country,” Gardner stated. “It’s something that I honor.”