Neighbor surprises Jeffersontown Elementary School with new American flag
"I am the guy in the camo jacket that is always walking the black and white dog, Roxie. We are thankful to come over here and chase squirrels and run. We all need to see Old Glory looking good. God Bless America."
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The red, white and blue box had been placed in front of the door at Jeffersontown Elementary School overnight.
When principal Brooke Schilling arrived at school on Jan. 18, she found the box, containing an American flag, and a message: "I am the guy in the camo jacket that is always walking the black and white dog, Roxie. We are thankful to come over here and chase squirrels and run. We all need to see Old Glory looking good. God Bless America."
Schilling, who had just taken over as the school's principal in mid-December, was overwhelmed.
"Our flag was a little tattered and it was something I wanted to get replaced, but I didn't know what the proper procedures were for removing an old flag and getting a new one," she told WDRB News on Friday. "To see this nice gesture from one of our neighbors, it's pretty amazing. What a random act of kindness and patriotism."
The neighbor -- Todd Hoerter -- lives right behind the school off Cedarwood Way. He works as the general maintenance manager for Steve Stratton, a local businessman who owns several McDonalds restaurants.
"I always keep a flag in the back of my truck, just in case the flags at any of our locations need to be replaced," Hoerter said. "Roxie and I walked around the school at least five or six times a day. They have a baseball field and big open space and she loves to run over there."
He said the dog -- part Border Collie, part Labrador Retriever -- particularly loves the squirrels that frequent the area.
"We noticed the flag wasn't in the best shape," Hoerter said.
Because he works odd hours, Hoerter said he decided to just leave the flag at the front door of the school, but he didn't leave his name.
"I would have just replaced the flag myself, but it had a lock on it," he said. "I wasn't expecting them to track me down."
But that's exactly what the school did -- they found him walking Roxie one day this week and invited him to a flag-raising ceremony that was held at the school on Friday morning.
Schilling had contacted the American Legion GI Joe Post 244 in Jeffersontown to ask for assistance in helping take down and retire the school's old flag. They helped her organize the ceremony, which turned into a school-wide celebration.
"They arranged the whole ceremony, brought out their honor guard," Schilling said. "We had more than 800 kids out there, it was something they had been looking forward to all week."
Instead of having the Pledge of Allegiance played over the school's loudspeaker during morning announcements, as the school does each day, Schilling said she waited for the ceremony.
"The kids were really ecstatic," she said.
Hoerter says he never expected such a big reaction to his kind gesture.
"There were so many kids and families there today," he said. "It really affected them in a way I hope is positive for the rest of their lives."
The school also had a surprise for Roxie -- a new dogtag with the inscription: "God Bless America, love Jtown family."
Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached @tkonz on Twitter or at (502)585-0838.
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