Editor’s Note: The following is one of the Western Journal’s most popular patriotic-themed stories, re-posted in honor of Independence Day.
Sometimes people don’t even need to meet one another to know they have a bond. Without exchanging a single word, or even meeting someone, there are ways to know that you and they have similarities.
If you’re a dog lover and you see someone walking a dog, there’s a bond. If you’re out and about and see someone wearing a shirt for your favorite band, movie or branch of the military, there’s a connection.
For Allen Skomer, a firefighter with the Toledo fire department, it was a flag that caught his attention. Having spent 8 years in the Navy, he had a special connection with Old Glory.
Skomer noticed the flag when his crew was dealing with a fire that had broken out in a veteran’s home.
“I was helping one of the rookies throw a stream in between those two structures, to keep that second structure from burning,” he told WTOL 11. “That’s when I noticed the colors waving with the flames behind them.”
Not one to stand by and let the flames consume the symbol of freedom, he walked up and took the flag down, carefully carrying it to the fire truck for safe keeping.
“I didn’t want to let it burn, so I went and grabbed it,” he later explained. “I’m an eight-year veteran of the Navy. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction. I didn’t want to see the colors go up.”
“I would never knowingly let the flag go up in smoke or be desecrated in front of me if I can help it.” Skomer’s timing was very good, considering the fact that the entire building went up in flames a short time later.
“I think shortly after … the roof became fully involved and it collapsed on itself,” he said. “We were able to save the adjoining structure. So I believe the flag got put back in there so the owner can keep it.”
“Even though he lost his place,” Skomer concluded, “the colors he can keep.”
According to his neighbors, the resident would appreciate the gesture. One of his friends, Christy Depp, told reporters that the veteran was notoriously careful with his flag and had just gotten it replaced.
“That was a brand-new flag,” Depp said. “He took the old one down and took it back and they gave him a brand new one.”
According to Depp, the homeowner is also a kind man who regularly helps out the people around him. “Bob’s a good man to the community, to us,” she continued. “He’s a veteran.”
“A lot of the homeless that walk up and down the streets, he feeds them. Cook for them and everything and never turned nobody down, nobody down. He did a lot for us.”
“Patriotism is something that I think is overlooked these days,” said Sterling Rahe, the Toledo Fire Spokesman. “That flag is the core symbol of our citizenship and we should be thankful for the freedom and what that flag represents.”
“It’s a proud moment. Respect for the flag runs deep within our department. It’s a great moment for Al to take be able to respect the flag and do what he did. What you saw in that video is who he is.”
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