While driving through Nebraska, a truck driver from Texas noticed something on the roadside that shouldn’t have ever been there. When he stopped to get a closer look, his heart dropped, and it immediately became a search and rescue operation.
While Jake Gridley was driving his 18-wheeler west on I-80 outside Omaha, he noticed something abandoned on the side of the highway. Instead of continuing down the road, as all other drivers were doing, he turned his big rig around and went back to check it out. What Jake found along the road made him heartbroken. He said it looked like a “man down.”
Sitting in the grass like a piece of crumpled trash was an American flag, and it was a sign of disrespect that Jake, who is a US Army veteran, couldn’t ignore. What the truck driver did next is what I would like to believe every American would have done, but sadly, I’m afraid that’s not the case. “It became my responsibility to take care of that flag,” Jake said.
“You could see it off in the grass. You’ve got the beautiful red, white, and blue. Then, you’ve got grass and trash,” Jake said. “I quickly turned this truck around, and it became a search and rescue. I was gonna rescue that flag from the disrespect of laying on the ground. Because what I saw was a representation of our country, the men and women who sacrificed their lives past, present, and future to protect it.”
When Jake picked up the flag, he noticed that it was in surprisingly good condition. He hung it on the side of his truck and took a picture to post on Facebook. People praised him as a hero for refusing to let the symbol of America languish on the side of the road. “The flag it just does something to you, you get that feeling of pride,” the patriotic veteran said.
Some of Jake’s new Facebook friends are so thankful, they have offered to buy him a meal, but Jake says he has already been paid back in full. Seeing the reaction to his good dead has been gratifying enough. “It shows that the American spirit and the faith in our country are still there,” he said.
Jake said his actions on that day and the comments he’s received since stopping off that interstate have made him feel a greater connection with his country. He is trying to find the owner of the flag, but in the meantime, it is respectfully folded and riding alongside him in his passenger seat.
“When I finally got the flag I instantly thought of my wife, kids, and grandkids, and all the opportunities we’ve had, the choices we’ve made good or bad, but we had the freedom to choose our own adventure,” Jake said. “I’m not rich, far from it, but it is what it is, and I am what I am because I am an American.”
Now, Jake keeps the flag with him as he drives his truck all over the country. He said his son came up with the idea to have people take pictures with it as he makes stops in each state. He wants to get pictures in all 50 states. “I love their enthusiasm and their patriotism it was so awesome,” he said about one of his photos.
Jake said while he rescued the flag, in a way the flag also rescued him. “Having the flag and being held up to a higher standard…it’s like a living, breathing thing. Nobody’s going to hurt this flag,” he said.
It’s completely disrespectful for Old Glory to be tossed aside as if it were nothing but garbage. People don’t take pride in America as they use to. It’s the sad truth. As Americans, we should fly our flags high and show Old Glory the respect she deserves. We should all be more like Jake.