Local veteran working to replace worn flags

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A local veteran is giving back to the community by replacing old and worn American flags with new ones.

Ryan Thorpe served in the Marine Corps and is currently a sheriff’s deputy. He first got the idea behind his nonprofit organization, Operation Restore Glory, in 2012.

“Driving down 58, I saw what was an old grain silo. It’s kind of fallen down now. There was a flag and it was all torn up,” he said.

Thorpe says he went to Wal-Mart, bought a new flag and returned to the home, where an older man lived.

“He said [the flag] was for his son, who passed away because he was killed in Iraq. I asked if I could replace the flag. He said, ‘Sure.’ I did that and now I kind of have a calling to continue to do that,” Thorpe said.

Now, Thorpe travels to other homes in the Hampton Roads area for his organization. He says replacing worn flags shows respect that’s missing within younger generations — especially those who stomp on flags.

“Everybody thinks the flag represents the government. The flag doesn’t represent the government,” he said. “The flag reflects the people and the people are the government. The flag should be respected.”

When Thorpe receives old flags, he takes them to local Boy Scout troops to retire them.

“It’s also going to teach the younger generations coming through the Boy Scouts to respect the flag and they’ll teach their friends. It will go from there,” Thorpe said.

Thorpe hopes that by starting this organization, others will also come to appreciate something he says symbolizes all of America.

“Yes, there are some negatives through our history as a country, but we have way more positives and it’s because of that flag,” he said.

Thorpe and his wife are raising money to cover costs for flags, which he says costs about $18 each.

If you would like to learn more about Thorpe’s organization or would like to donate, click here to visit his GoFundMe account