San Diego

Saying Thank You with the American Flag

You can hear them marching to Emmanuel Reyes’ Rancho Peñasquitos home Saturday from a block away. A troop of Young Marines — the youth organization that emphasizes values such as teamwork and respect — was at the veteran’s doorsteps to deliver a flag.

Their mission was not just to deliver Old Glory but also to raise the flag. The moving front-yard ceremony Saturday meant more to Reyes than the children realized.

During the ceremony, Reyes was standing next to 14-year-old Sophia Righthouse, the person who made all this happen.

Righthouse, a freshman at Westview High School, came up with the idea of raising money to buy flags for veterans — but not just the flags, the 20-foot flag poles as well.

She and her parents install them and then return with the troops as a way to say thank you.

"It's kind of funny because we usually find them by chance, by fate. Different events, like Dennys, parades,” she said. “They’re really surprised ’cause they don't think anyone does this for them anymore"

Righthouse found Reyes through a military bumper sticker on his daughter's car and asked the family if she could install the flag.

It turns out Saturday’s flag ceremony meant more than anyone realized.

“I turned down my ceremony, my retirement ceremony and this is good,” Reyes said.

He said this was the retirement ceremony he never had.

"I just cannot believe this happened," he said.

The flag is one of three delivered Saturday — one of about a dozen now waving in veterans front yards around San Diego thanks to a patriotic teenager — who along with her troop of Young Marines just wanted to say thank you to veterans with Old Glory.

The Young Marines program operates across the U.S. and Japan and is open to all youths, boys and girls, ages 8 through the completion of high school.

It's not directly tied to the military or recruitment although some members do eventually choose to join the military.

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