Man Crosses Busy Highway to Recover American Flag

The American National Flag on the foreground with a marching band and buildings out of focus during a parade.
Roberto Galan - iStock / Getty Images Plus

A Massachusetts man put his own life at risk to cross a busy highway during rush hour to save a damaged American flag.

James Deely, 33, of West Bridgewater, was heading home from work on August 16 when he spotted a flag attached to a pole sitting in the middle of the road near the West Bridgewater-Bridgewater town line.

While most people would not think twice about a flag sitting on the edge of the road, Deely remembered his elementary school years reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and feared the symbol of our nation would be destroyed and forgotten.

“I drove past it, just like pretty much everyone else did, and I kept going up the highway,” he told CBS Boston. “I was torn, [thinking], You know, I should really go back and pick it up. I thought about always seeing this flag throughout my entire journey through this crazy world. Memories that would never fade.”

Deely, who said the flag could have fallen off a truck, drove his car around and parked it in the highway’s breakdown lane with his hazards on.

He then sat in his car waiting 15-20 minutes for traffic to abate during the 5 p.m. rush hour before he could grab the flag.

Once he noticed an opening in the traffic flow, he ran to the highway median to grab the tattered flag before waiting another 15 minutes to cross back to his vehicle.

Other drivers noticed, with some honking their horns and giving him a thumbs up from their vehicles.

“I picked the flag up and got a lot of passersby waving, giving me the thumbs-up, and honking the horn,” Deely said.

Deely plans to hang the 5-foot 3-inch flag in his home after he professionally dry cleans it, the Enterprise reported.

The 33-year-old says he believes it was the right thing to do and hopes he can use his experience to teach his nearly two-year-old son Lincoln about doing the right thing.

“I grew up and was raised to respect the flag and the country it stands for. It is not something that you forget or let fall by the wayside,” he said.

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