Meet the veteran who flies the American flag above the 4500 S overpass
Nov 19, 2018 11:11AM
● By Lindsey Baxter
Ed Flegal standing proudly and dedicated on Veterans Day. (Lindsey Baxter/City Journals)
By Lindsey Baxter | [email protected]
Ed Flegal, a veteran and resident of Holladay, proudly spends his time at the top of 4500 South in full uniform. He gets up early to place flags along both sides of the overpass on 4500 South and I-215. He stands waving as cars drive by and offers little U.S. flags to anyone who wants one. As he stands there, multiple cars from the street and freeway below honk and wave to him as he politely waves and nods back at them.
“The reason I do this thing is because of the state of this country today,” Flegal said on Veterans Day. “Our young people don’t really realize, I don’t think really realize what freedom costs. When President (John F.) Kennedy was the president, he made a statement in one of his broadcasts that said ‘Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country’ and I’ve tried to live by that. I think it’s very important that our youth and our adults recognize what this is really all about: freedom, the blood that it costs, patriotism, and that’s where I am today.”
When asked about what he wants people to remember for him doing this, he responded, “If you recall, two weekends ago, the mayor of North Ogden, Brent Taylor, was a major in the National Guard in Afghanistan and was killed. That struck a nerve with me. I put a statement on Facebook yesterday about remembering what Veterans Day is. It isn’t just a holiday — it’s to remember the people, the soldiers, the men and women who have served that have paid the ultimate price. It’s to remember their families that are dealing with situations that other families don’t have to deal with.”
Flegal’s younger sister, Becky Stratton, surprised him with a big hug to support him on Veterans Day. Stratton said, “I appreciate his patriotism. He honors the people that have given and continue to give so much. I love how he loves the flag. He does this in the heat and in the cold and it’s not the easiest thing for him to do. He’s a good man; I’m proud of him.”
Flegal started five years ago with one flag and it has grown to 14 flags. All of the flags are provided to him by his Scout Troop in Holladay and he puts them up five holidays throughout the year. He can be seen with the flags on Memorial Day, Flag Day, Veterans Day, 4th of July and 24th of July. Once in a while you can find him at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve with a spotlight on the flag for about an hour. This last year his daughter joined him and captured a moment of Flegal saluting the flag as fireworks burst in the air right behind him. “It was quite picturesque and there are times here that it gets to be kind of choking and emotional,” Flegal said.
Flegal started in the service in December of 1960 and served in the reserves up through 1968. He signed up before he was 18 and so his tour of duty was eight years; four years in Active Reserve and four years Inactive Reserve in the Vietnam Era. Flegal and his two brothers served at the same time. “My older brother ended up in Germany and then was activated and went to Vietnam and served on the front lines there. My younger brother and I, Doug Flegal, served stateside.”
Flegal’s training started the following June after he enlisted, and he was trained to run telephone wire across battlefields. When he finished his service, he hired on with the phone company and transferred around the Western states.
“I want the youth of this country to understand that freedom’s not free and there is a price to pay. I hope that my standing here will inspire the youth and their parents to stand up and take pride in this country,” Flegal said.