A Rockaway Park sanitation worker has been rescuing American flags that were thrown away in order to give them a respectful disposal.
Ed Shevlin, 57, began collecting the flags he found in the trash about a year ago in the neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Sandy. He says some were found scrunched up in the back of his garbage truck.
“The flag deserves more than a place in the hopper of the sanitation truck,” Shevlin told CBS New York. So he started a campaign titled Saving Old Glory.
“Right now in my car there’s a little over 700 flags,” he said. “The flags get burned in a very respectful ceremony.”
“So many people have died for this flag. So many people have been willing to give their lives for this flag,” he said.
“That stands for so much more than any other symbol we have in this country.”
Initially, he offered to drive anywhere in the five boroughs to collect unwanted, disregarded flags.
But word spread of Shevlin’s efforts, resulting in organizations and individuals bringing their old flags directly to him.
“People come out of their homes with their children and actually present me with flags,” he said.
At a ceremony held Saturday at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, all of the flags were ignited, retired with the respect and deference they deserve, CBS New York reports.
Shevlin was presented with a special commendation at the ceremony.
Shevlin, known as Shevy by friends and colleagues, is the Sanitation Department’s Renaissance man.
He has previously won a scholarship from the Irish Fulbright Commission and was honored as the Irish Man of the Year by the City Council.