RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) –When homeowners in the patriotic Richardson neighborhood just off Belt Line and Spring Valley Roads woke up on July 5, they found what many described as America at its worst.
Flags that were adorned to households the previous night had been desecrated. Some were burned to a near crisp while others had graffiti symbols sprayed upon them.
The Partlow family found their flag sprayed with a capital A surrounded by a circle: The symbol of anarchy. The Guzman family’s flag was burned, lying in a pile of smaller flags in the middle of the street.
These images stirred Army Sgt. Don Hollis when he saw an earlier story. He returned from Iraq in November and was stirred to action.
“It’s just not something that I could stand for,” Sgt. Hollis said.
So he and his wife drove from Fort Worth to present the two families with flags he’d brought from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.
Along with the new flags, he presented them with patches he’d worn on his own uniform when he was in military training.
“I was following in the footsteps of veterans like yourselves,” he told them. “That’s why I’m here.”
Sal Guzman and John Partlow both served their country. Guzman served 20 years in the Navy; Parlow was in the Air Force for four years.
John and Gala Partlow quickly raised their new flag on the pole they have in their front yard.
“It’s fantastic,” John Partlow said. “Unbelievable.”
Sal Guzman said he was “a little emotional.”
“Just makes you realize the great people we have in our armed forces,” he added.
Guzman’s wife, Veronica, tenderly held their new flag. Their flagpole, which had been mounted to their home, had burned with the flag.
Both families said Sgt. Hollis restored their faith in people –– he turned the incident into America at his best.
“It doesn’t matter what branch it is. We’re all still part of one nation,” Sgt. Hollis said.
And part of one flag.
Partlow said he will continue to fly the flag 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Investigators are still searching for the vandals.