Every morning, 95-year-old World War II vet John Mastrocola rises at 8 a.m., sets up his lawn chair alongside Litchfield Street, outside his home, and waves his American flag at passersby.
He became a fixture for locals in his town of Torrington, Connecticut, who came to expect his patriotic greeting each day; and they recently returned the Navy veteran’s goodwill gesture with a car parade in his honor.
Mastrocola stood, smiled, and saluted as dozens of cars rolled by, flags flying and honking horns, in a show of patriotism and appreciation along Litchfield Street.
Photograph courtesy of Ken Buckbee, Past President – Connecticut Society, Sons of the American Revolution (2003-2006)
“This is what I fought for,” the former sailor said. “And once you disrespect the flag, the country goes down the tubes.”These days, too few people in America respect the country they call home, the 95-year-old vet said.
The patriotic veteran is dying of cancer. Nevertheless, he says it is his final mission in life to fly the American flag.
“I am one of the very few World War II veterans left so before I leave I want them to remember John ‘Never Surrender’ Mastrocola,” he told Fox 61.
He adds, “I’m dying of cancer. I’m less than 100 pounds—but as long as I can keep coming out here, I will. When you don’t see me out here then you’ll know.”
All cars were welcome for the event, the parade organizer said, and they expected around 50 people to participate.
Meanwhile, shows of support for the American flag have been popping up in other places around the country recently.
Last month, a father and son from the community of Seaford, New York, started putting up flags on utility poles in their neighborhood as a way to spend time together during the lockdown because of the virus and also for the father to teach his son an important lesson.
Members of the public responded with honks of support and wishes of “God Bless America.”
It soon caught on when the father, Eric Uss, started a Facebook group Flags Fly High, and members of the community started joining in the flag-raising, putting up hundreds of the stars and stripes across Seaford.
Uss told Fox the purpose was to teach his son how meaningful such a small gesture could be. “And I wanted him to see that something so small could be so big, and it could be an amazing, amazing positive change,” he said.
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