ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — 4th of July celebrations wouldn’t be complete without the American flag. Over the centuries, it has come to symbolize freedom or our nation and across the globe.
The flag can take a beating from Mother Nature and sometimes needs to be replaced. A local veterans group makes that process easier.
“Miss Glory does a really good job of bringing some respect and understanding of what that flag’s about, and we love doing it,” explained Operation Fallen Flag founder, Nick Parnello.
The group uses Parnello’s truck, nicknamed “Miss Glory”, to replace worn and tattered American flags across Winnebago County.
“A lot of men and women died for that flag. And so, it touches me deeply, on how so many sacrificed because they believed in that freedom,” Parnello explained.
Operation Fallen Flags helps any business or residence whose flag needs replacing. Many who request a visit from Miss Glory are younger veterans. Parnello says the truck promotes unity amongst those who have served for our country.
“We went through a lot, and we feel that some of the things we went through, and got to the other side in a better way, maybe we could help our younger vets. Because they struggle too,” Parnello added. “A lot of the Vietnam veterans have been willing to give up their time to spend time with the younger vets, go out with the Glory Truck, replace flags. It’s a wonderful opportunity to find that Band of Brothers kind-of thing.”
“It’s just heartwarming for us to let them raise the flag after we get everything fixed. We had one lady out here, her husband died ten years ago, he was a Navy vet. Unfortunately, their flag never got replaced. We came out as a group, and when we let her raise that flag she just started crying,” he said.
In 2019, Parnello and Miss Glory started visiting locals as part of Operation Stars and Stripes, where veterans help teach kids about the history and importance of the Red, White, and Blue.
“We go out to any school that would like us to come out, and ‘Mr. Marine’ Ed McMahon does a beautiful presentation talking about the flag and the sacrifices that men and women have made for that flag,” Parnello said.
While COVID-19 put those visits to schools on hold, Parnello says Miss Glory has stayed busy. Parnello says they have received an increase in calls. He added that each call is special.
“Miss Glory, I’ll tell you, the truck really has spirit. It’s like she’s really alive. And I really believe she loves her vets because we saved her. She was going to go the junkyard. She’s 30 years old, actually. Last year we had a birthday party for her,” Parnello concluded.
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