Veteran finds American flag at city garbage dump

Posted at 6:22 PM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 18:22:16-04

A veteran made a shocking discovery at a Tampa city garbage dump, and now hopes it’s a wake up call about respecting our nation’s symbol of freedom. 

“When I put my foot down to start to empty the trailer I slipped on that and I looked down and I was just shocked to see it there,” Navy veteran Frank Fernandez said.

Fernandez is still emotional, talking about stepping on an American flag in the middle of debris at the garbage disposal site on South 34th Street in Tampa. 

“I was just lucky enough to see it and pick it up so it wouldn’t become garbage,” Fernandez said.

He made the discovery Monday, and as a veteran, took it especially hard. 

“I felt bad that that had happened at all that somebody would desecrate the flag in that fashion and just throw it aside,” Fernandez said. 

But now, thanks to his attention, the flag has been saved. 

“It’s kind of a surprise this is really the first time we’ve had to encounter something like this, that was brought to our attention,” Mark Wilfalk, City of Tampa Director of Solid Waste & EPM Department, said. 

Workers process up to 3,000 tons of garbage at their site every day, but said they never want to find the American flag in the pile. Now, this flag will have a new life and purpose. 

“This one, we’ll probably keep it since it was brought to our attention, and maybe even try to educate our customers a little bit on the proper disposal techniques of the American flag,” Wilfalk said. 

If you need to dispose of an American flag, you can reach out to the VFW for help. Fernandez hopes this reminds people what the flag represents. 

“People have lived and died for that flag, that hurt,” Fernandez said.