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A garbage man in Utah was filmed last week removing an American flag from the garbage and folding it neatly when he thought no one was looking.
Don “Munch” Gardner, a Marine Corps veteran, was secretly recorded honoring the flag, according to Brooke Cowley of Huntingdon, Utah fox 13.
“I was a complete idiot! I cleaned our porch while the kids hunted for Easter eggs. I threw away our flag and pole because they were broken and torn,” Cowley wrote on Facebook. “Then I saw our ‘garbage man’ pull over, get out of the truck, unhook the flag and take the time to fold it!”
Cowley said Gardner’s action shamed her that she failed to properly retire the flag, especially since she is married to a veteran.
“In that moment I was so grateful for what he had done and for the obvious love he has for our country and our flag! Thank you sir for teaching me a lesson I will not forget,” she wrote of Gardner.
Gardner, who spends eight to 12 hours a day collecting garbage cans in Utah’s Emery and Carbon counties, told a local outlet that he’s saved at least a dozen flags from landfill over the past 11 years. He said he gets upset when he sees flags thrown away.
“Sometimes it’s a mistake. Most of the time it’s on purpose. I have a problem with it, so I just take it out and deal with it,” he said.
“I once swore an oath to defend this country and our flag, and I still do,” Gardner said. “Many people have died protecting this flag and fighting under this flag. Much blood has been shed to give us the freedoms we have today.”
Gardner also explained that there is a correct way to dispose of an American flag. “Anyone in Emery County who knows me, if you don’t know what to do with it, bring it to me,” he said. “I’ll make sure it’s done properly.”