Rocky Mountain News : Printer-friendly story
Boy stands up for Old Glory
By Myung Oak Kim
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Jeffrey Sahli noticed the faded, fraying American flag outside Evergreen Middle School soon after he started eighth grade last year.
"I thought the flag wasn't being treated with flag etiquette. I thought I needed to do that," the 14-year-old said. "I wanted to serve my country and I thought, heck, I'll start right here."
With the principal's permission, he began taking care of Old Glory. Every school day he carefully hoists the U.S. and Colorado flags before classes and takes them down before heading home. He folds the Colorado flag into a neat square, the U.S. flag into a triangle, and places them in a cabinet in the office.
He keeps them inside on stormy days.
Susan Roy didn't know Jeffrey but saw him every time she dropped off and picked up her son at Evergreen Middle.
"Jeff would be out there - rain or shine - it didn't matter," she said. "He just wasn't taking it down, throwing it over his shoulders and taking it inside. He was very purposeful about it."
"As simple as it is to some people, it really is a big deal. He doesn't do it for an attaboy.
"He just does it because it's right."
Roy was so impressed that she told a family friend stationed in Iraq about Jeffrey. First Sgt. Timothy Horan serves with the Kentucky National Guard's 138th Fires Brigade.
"You don't hear of kids taking that kind of responsibility, especially with something like that," he said. "A lot of younger kids think it's corny."
Horan bought a flag at the military store and hung it above Camp Liberty near the Baghdad airport on Jan. 30 in Jeffrey's honor.
The next day, he was flown out of the country for emergency heart surgery. Friends sent the flag to Horan this spring. He got it to Roy who gave it to Evergreen Principal Jane Sutera.
Sutera arranged a surprise ceremony Thursday at the school where a shocked and grateful Jeffrey received the flag and a certificate from the Army recognizing his patriotism.
"I've never been recognized for doing something as simple as that," he said.
"It was one of the best feelings I've had in my life."
He said he wasn't embarrassed by the attention because he wants people to see what he stands for.
"I stand for duty, honor, God and country."
Jeffrey doesn't come from a military background, though he hopes to attend West Point.
He wears a cross and a dog tag on a chain under his shirt. The bands on his braces are red, white and blue.
Outside Evergreen Middle School, the flag is clean and bright.
Jeffrey said the flag reminds him of the soldiers serving in Iraq.
"When they're coming home, I wanted them to see the flag flying high."
kimm@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-2361
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