A 12-year-old Redding boy served as Melania Trump’s guest of honor at Tuesday night’s State of the Union, and received a public thanks from the president.
Standing next to the First Lady, Preston Sharp beamed as President Donald Trump commended his two-year mission of topping fallen veterans’ graves with American flags and flowers.
“Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day,” Trump said in his speech. “He decided, all by himself, to change that and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. Preston: a job well done.”
Sharp’s family was visiting his grandfather’s grave on Veterans Day 2015 at McDonald’s Chapel cemetery in Redding when he noticed flags and flowers missing from several service members’ headstones.
He became upset and continued to voice his frustration throughout the day, his mother April said on the family’s GoFundMe page, before she told him, “You can’t complain about something unless you try to do something about it.”
Whether April was trying to motivate her son or just get some peace and quiet, her comment was the spur Preston needed. He began vacuuming floors and soliciting donations to adorn every McDonald’s Chapel veteran grave with a flag and flower.
After meeting his goal, Sharp expanded into Shasta County graveyards and eventually continued down Interstate 5 to Sacramento, often joined by others who wanted to honor the deceased. Next, he wants to lay flags and artificial red carnations at cemeteries in all 50 states, having already done so in Nevada, Oregon, Virginia and Florida.
“Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans, and I met Preston a little while ago and he is something very special, that I can tell you,” Trump said. “Great future. Thank you very much for all you’ve done, Preston.”
Trump then moved onto the rest of his speech, but not before getting in a dig at Colin Kaepernick and others who have knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest racial inequality.
“Preston’s reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance and why we proudly stand for the national anthem,” Trump said.