By: Nick Vasiliou

Who is Preston Sharp? During his State of the Union address, President Trump made a call for unity. Who better to start off quite a challenge. A 12-year-old boy from Redding, California who organized the placement of over 40,000 American flags and red carnations on soldiers graves through what he called “the Flag and Flower Challenge.” Young Preston Sharp was invited as a guest to the State of The Union address to again subconsciously emphasize Trump’s argument that recognizing the sacrifices of present and former American military personnel is, Trump believes, mutually inclusive with publicly saluting our country’s flag.

Sharp, wearing a flag pin on his dark suit with a white shirt and red tie, sat between First Lady Melania Trump and his mother, April, in the House of Representatives gallery. He is one of 15 special guests to the President and First Lady, joining several small business owners, veterans and police officers. The President wanted to recognize Sharp for his reverence towards military veterans. Sharp became well known for the Flag and Flower Challenge.

Sharp was inspired to do it on Veteran’s Day in 2015, when he noticed what he felt was a lack of respect being given to soldiers’ gravesites. He was very upset that veterans were not being honored on this special day. His parents told him “You can’t complain about something unless you are willing to fix it.” Sharp looked up at his mother and with a very strong voice and said, “I am going to do something about it!” He started raising money for the flags and flowers immediately by asked how much money he could get if he vacuumed the floors. That night, Sharp set a goal.

His actions show the ability of one young person to inspire others and change the world. He was honored by the President of the United States for his efforts.

He created a GoFundMe page in efforts to help jump start his campaign. In the first 24 hours since the State of the Union address, Sharp’s fund received 121 donations, each ranging from $5 to $2,000. The contributions came to about $7,400, bringing the amount he has raised to $44,306 of his $1 million goal. James Gibson, a cemetery volunteer and former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy said we submariners support him; and Sharp was excited about it. Norm Hosking, another veteran, ex-submariner, said he knows Sharp and his mom well from their flag and flower efforts. Hosking said the pair also supports vets by attending a veterans Christmas party every year. Hosking said he called and left a message for Sharp after Trump’s speech. “I told him he looked fantastic on TV and April [his mom] looked even better.”

Sharp supposedly worked to place flags and flowers on every grave in the cemetery and where his veteran grandfather now rests, in Redding, California. After that, he branched out to nearby counties and then challenged people all around the United States to do the same. Sharp’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. He is on a mission to honor veterans every day and not just on holidays, throughout America. 

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