Don Gardner, a sanitation worker in Utah, said he was just doing his job when he pulled a discarded American flag out of the trash and folded it before returning to work. But Brooke Cowley, who captured the moment on video, said it filled her with pride.
Gardner, a Marine Corps veteran, said matter-of-factly that he "just stepped out and took care of it" when he saw the flag in a trash can. He said this wasn’t the first time he’s stopped to honor the flag.
"I’ve done it before," he said on "Fox & Friends" Thursday. "I just got caught this time."
Cowley told host Ainsley Earhardt that the flag was accidentally thrown away after a wind storm swept through. In an effort to clean the yard and dispose of debris, she discarded the broken flag as well.
"I didn’t even realize what I had done," Cowley said. "I’m actually married to a veteran. … I just had a moment of brain fog."
Cowley’s children were doing schoolwork at home the next day when they saw Gardner folding the flag. Cowley said she felt "sheer embarrassment" when she realized what she had done.
She then felt proud of Gardner for the respect he showed for the American flag and the time he spent to honor it.
"It was really a moment of peace and comfort," she recalled. "It was really humbling to see Don do that."
Cowley said the moment touched her entire family, and her children asked if they could give him something in return. The family gifted Gardner a challenge coin, which veterans often collect, the next week.
"It’s a moment that we will remember forever," she said. "We’re so thankful for his service and what he gave to our family and our community."
Cowley noted the division within America and encouraged people to be more like Gardner.
"A lot of people died under that flag to protect our country," Gardner said. "It’s something that I honor."