Life
Man notices flag for sale at flea market then spots messages on stripes
The American flag was only $5. But after Walter read through the messages, he knew it shouldn't be there at all.
Jenny Brown
01.06.22

Many people go to flea markets with a specific item in mind, while others enjoy walking around not knowing what kind of treasures they’ll end up purchasing.

Either way, you can end up with some amazing finds at flea markets. Just like a special flag that one Texas man discovered, which turned out to be priceless.

Unsplash - Nikola Đuza
Source:
Unsplash - Nikola Đuza

Walter Brown was shopping at a flea market in Hemphill when a specific item caught his eye. It was an American flag covered with writing.

He immediately called over his wife, Lanie, to look at it closer with him. She too was blown away by the flea market find.

After the Browns read through the heartfelt messages on the flag – they knew it was important to purchase it, whatever the cost. Lanie told TODAY.com:

“If they asked us for $100 we would have given them a $100 bill. It was priceless to us because we knew it meant something.”

YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY

The seller informed them that the flag had a price tag of $5, which they happily paid.

Once home, the couple showed the flag to their son, who’s a Marine. He identified that what they purchased was a fallen Marine’s tribute flag. It had touching messages like:

“We’ll always remember the sacrifice you made. God bless.”

YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY

Another Marine wrote:

“You will be missed by all, but never forgotten.”

All of the two dozen messages were for Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel, who lost his life in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq in 2005.

Posted by Patsy Maciel on Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It was obvious to the couple that the flag belonged to Fred’s family, and should be returned to them.

With the help of their children, they managed to track down the fallen Marine’s mother, Patsy Maciel. But instead of just sending it to her through the mail, they felt it was important that her son’s tribute flag be hand-delivered.

Walter told KHOU 11:

“It’s a lot deeper than just putting it in a mailbox.”

YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY

Patsy met the Browns at her son’s gravesite to receive the flag. Others showed up as well, all to honor the late Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel.

Years after her son’s passing, Patsy finally got to see the flag that his fellow Marines had covered with messages. According to CBS News, the grieving mom didn’t know it existed until hearing from the couple. She did, however, receive an official flag for his casket nearly a decade before.

Another message on the tribute flag beautifully read:

“Thank you for being who you were … Rest in peace.”

YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY

She felt the flag was a message from her son, saying she needed to heal.

Patsy told TODAY.com:

“If this happened any earlier, there’s no way I would have been able to go out there and receive it because I was an absolute basket case. Now, my heart is at peace.”

YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY

Patsy also thought her son played a part in the couple finding the flag.

Lanie agreed, since them even being at the flea market was “a miracle.” Turns out, Walter isn’t much of a shopper, and normally dislikes places like it. The only reason they went that particular day was because he wanted to look for a holster.

YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY

Patsy was absolutely touched receiving the flag, and by the ceremony honoring her son.

The mom told KHOU 11:

“You know, I’m happy. This is is all for my son. Nobody forgot my son.”

YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY
Source:
YouTube Screenshot - USA TODAY

Thank goodness the Browns were at the flea market that day, and that they acted with kindness to help heal a mom’s heart. Surely, Patsy will cherish the flag forever.

Check out the video below to learn more about this touching story!

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By Jenny Brown
hi@sbly.com
Jenny Brown is a senior writer at Shareably. She is based in San Francisco and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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