When 11-year-old Preston Sharp came home visibly upest and angry, his mom knew something serious was up. Preston rarely got frustrated, but what he had seen when visiting his Grandpa’s grave in Redding, California had really riled him up. Sharp had noticed that not every Veteran’s grace was accompanied by the US flag and it really upset him.
Hours later, Preston was still bothered. His mom decided this was a perfect opportunity to teach him a crucial life lesson – “I was like, ‘Son, if you’re going to complain about something, you have to do something about it or let it go.’ And he’s like, ‘Well, I’m going to do something about it, Mom,'” she said.
Preston began taking odd jobs and soliciting donations to raise the funds needed to buy flags and flowers for every veteran in his grandpa’s cemetery. He quickly managed to complete his mission, so he moved on to another, and then another.
Pres. Trump honored 12-yo Preston Sharp at Tuesday night’s #SOTULast year, Steve Hartman went On The Road to meet the young man who took on odd jobs & solicited donations to buy flags & flowers for every veteran in his grandpa's cemetery & beyond http://cbsn.ws/2npdMii
Posted by CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor on Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Now, two years later, some 23,000 graves have had flags and flowers added to them. Preston heads out there every single week, no matter what the weather is like. “They were out there in the rain doing their job, protecting us,” said the patriotic young man, as reported by CBS News. When word started to spread about Preston’s astonishing devotion, volunteers lined up to help him.
“It’s just amazing,” said Vietnam veteran Fred Loveland. “What he’s doing brings them out, because they can’t believe that a young man in this country is doing what he does.”
Maryland was my 6th state I honored. Boise ID is next month! don’t forget to do you the #FandFchanlenge 🇺🇸
Preston’s actions even got the attention of the President, who took a moment to honor his work during the State of the Union address.
“Today, Preston has organized the placement of more than 40,000 American flags and red carnations on soldiers’ graves, as part of his goal to honor veterans in all 50 States and to challenge others to join the Flag and Flower Challenge (#FandFChallenge),” the White House stated of Preston’s campaign after inviting him to the State of the Union.
“We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag,” Trump said in his first State of the Union address. “Together, we are rediscovering the American way. In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust.””
Then, a word of respect and honor for American military veterans.
“And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support,” Trump said.
Finally, Preston’s big moment:
“Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. Preston: a job well done,” President Trump declared, as all in attendance stood and applauded Preston’s wonderful efforts.
“Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans,” Trump continued. “Preston’s reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”
“Americans love their country. And they deserve a Government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.”
But it isn’t just a case of Preston placing a flag and a flower at each grave and moving on, the young patriot expects every volunteer to read out the name of the veteran and say “Thank you,” rcognizing their service.
His GoFundMe page explains:
“If you come out to help, Preston has specific expectations. It isn’t just placing a flag and a flower at each headstone, Preston wants each veteran to be thanked personally by saying out loud the veteran’s name and to thank them for their service. Preston is quite specific about saying the veteran’s name out loud, as he feels that a veteran’s name not said out loud is a veteran forgotten.”
Plus, his appreaciation for veterans doesn’t stop at decorating their graves.
“Preston doesn’t honor only the fallen veterans, he also visits a local home for veterans and enjoys listening to their stories, sometimes going out to lunch or dinner with them,” the site adds.