A flag of honor and respect

Nolan Foley has always had great respect and love for the American flag. It all began on July 24, 2015, when Nolan’s uncle, Justin Foley, took him to see the homecoming of U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, who was killed in a terrorist attack on July 16 while stationed at a Naval Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

When Sullivan’s body was transported from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., to his hometown of Springfield, Mass., thousands of people lined the streets to show their respect. Nolan was in the crowd when a military officer handed a flag to him and his uncle. They were asked to "hold this flag with honor because when Sgt. Sullivan comes by, he should receive the respect due to him for devoting his life to our great nation. He was a true hero."

About a year later, Virginia police officer Ashley Guindon was killed in the line of duty and was laid to rest in West Springfield. Nolan asked his grandmother to grab the flag that he received from Sullivan’s homecoming so he could go honor another fallen hero and give her the homecoming she deserved as well.

Later that year, a severe thunderstorm was approaching Nolan’s home. He became upset that the American flag flying in his front yard was left out in the storm. Nolan asked his grandmother to please get the flag, but she suggested they wait for the wind and rain to calm down. However, Nolan would not take no for an answer. He ran out into the yard, grabbed the flag, came back inside and said, "Okay grandma, now the flag is safe."

Nolan’s grandfather is a retired firefighter for the West Springfield Fire Department. When given the chance to participate in a parade and ride in a fire truck, he would bring Nolan with him. Nolan would be there with his American flag sticking out of the window of the fire truck for everyone to see.

"His love for his country is like no other love I have ever seen," Justin said. "If he could collect every torn flag and bring it to an American Legion for retirement, he would."

This past March, Nolan was recognized by District 3 of The American Legion Department of Massachusetts during a banquet at Post 275 in Chicopee. His respect and passion for the American flag was relayed to the group, and he was presented with another American flag. This one had flown over the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Nolan was also presented with a new Sons of The American Legion membership to Squadron 185 in Agawam, Mass., where his uncle is the squadron commander.

Nolan was so happy about the new flag and his SAL membership card that he cried tears of joy on his ride home that evening.