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Preston Sharp has a dream. You probably have heard about this 12-year-old boy. If not, you need to know him.
I met with Preston Wednesday at the Redding Memorial Park during an afternoon with others who’d volunteered to place flags and red carnations on veterans’ graves.
The story behind Preston Sharp’s passion to recognize veterans
Just after Preston turned 10, he went to the cemetery to visit his grandfather’s grave on Veteran’s Day. Preston noticed that many of the veterans’ graves were not honored with flags or flowers, and that upset him. His mother told him not to complain, to do something if he felt so strongly.
So Preston started placing flags and red carnations on veterans’ graves in Redding, something that has spread to several states across the nation. This year alone, Preston has traveled to 10 states to place flags and flowers on veterans’ graves. Saturday he leaves for New Orleans, and this summer Preston is scheduled to visit five states. His goal, his dream – is to place flags and flowers on veterans’ graves in every state.
To help with his goal, Preston has created the Flag And Flower challenge. He challenges everyone, on any given day, to place a 12-x-18 flag and red carnation on a veteran’s grave. When you do, Preston asks that you say the veteran’s name out loud and thank the veteran for his or her service.
Preston then asks that you take a picture of yourself by the gravestone, showing the flag and flower, then post the picture on social media: #fandfchallenge.
Preston’s motto is to ‘Honor Veterans Every Day, And Not Just On a Holiday’. So any day of the year, Preston challenges people to visit a cemetery and honor veterans. You can get detailed information on his Facebook page.
Preston asked me if I am a veteran. I told him yes, that I’d served in Vietnam. He shook my hand and thanked me for my service with a beautiful smile. I was so impressed. His smile told me, ‘I sincerely appreciate your service.’
Preston is without doubt dedicated to honoring veterans. He is an incredible young man. Someone on the Preston Sharp team told me his goal when he grows up is to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Preston would make an outstanding Secretary. He would go above and beyond to support our veterans. He already is.
Preston has honored more than 55,000 veterans. And with the upcoming five states, he hopes to honor more than 75,000 more. He is asking for donations to help him reach his goal. Preston says every three bucks counts! Also, to help raise money, the Preston Sharp team is selling T-shirts for $20 and commemorative Preston Sharp numbered coins for $25.
I asked Preston about visiting Washington and meeting President Trump and the First Lady. He told me they are amazing. He said they were friendly, nice and soft-spoken. He was thrilled to sit next to Melania Trump during the State of the Union address.
And he was excited to sit down with the First Lady and Second Lady of the United States. He had the opportunity before the State of the Union address to sit with them both in a room at the Capital and have a private conversation. Preston said it was just the three of them, no Secret Service, which he said he really enjoyed.
Preston has been to the White House three times now. Melania Trump gave Preston a personal invitation to join her for her “Be Best” campaign that she launched on May 7 in the Rose Garden, which was when Preston was honored to meet again with the First Lady and the President of the United States at the White House.