You never know what you’ll find rummaging around a flea market. Typically a person might be excited about a smoking deal or a unique treasure – but what a couple from Texas discovered was actually priceless.
Walter Brown was shopping at a flea market in Hemphill when a special item caught his eye. It was an American flag covered with writing.
He immediately called over his wife, Lanie, to look at it closer with him. She too was blown away by the flea market find.
After the Browns read through the heartfelt messages on the flag – they knew it was important to purchase it, whatever the cost. Lanie told TODAY.com:
“If they asked us for $100 we would have given them a $100 bill. It was priceless to us because we knew it meant something.”
They were informed by the seller that the flag cost $5. So the Browns bought it without hesitation.
Once home, the couple showed the flag to their son, who’s a Marine. He identified that what they purchased was a fallen Marine’s tribute flag. It had touching messages like:
“We’ll always remember the sacrifice you made. God bless.”
Another Marine wrote:
“You will be missed by all, but never forgotten.”
All of the two dozen messages were for Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel, who lost his life in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq in 2005.
The Browns knew the tribute flag should be home with Maciel’s family.
With the help of their children, they managed to track down the fallen Marine’s mother, Patsy Maciel. But instead of just sending it to her through the mail, they felt it was important that her son’s flag be hand-delivered.
Walter told KHOU 11:
“It’s a lot deeper than just putting it in a mailbox.”
Patsy met the Browns at her son’s gravesite to receive the flag. Others showed up as well, all to honor the late Lance Cpl. Fred Maciel.
Years after her son’s passing, Patsy finally got to see the flag that his fellow Marines had covered with messages. According to CBS News, the grieving mom didn’t know it existed until hearing from the couple. She did, however, receive an official flag for his casket nearly a decade before.
Another message on the tribute flag beautifully read:
“Thank you for being who you were … Rest in peace.”
She felt the flag was a message from her son, saying she needed to heal.
Patsy told TODAY.com:
“If this happened any earlier, there’s no way I would have been able to go out there and receive it because I was an absolute basket case. Now, my heart is at peace.”
Patsy also thought her son played a part in the couple finding the flag.
Lanie agreed, since them even being at the flea market was “a miracle.” Turns out, Walter isn’t much of a shopper, and normally dislikes places like it. The only reason they went that particular day was because he wanted to look for a holster.
She was absolutely touched receiving the flag, and by the ceremony honoring Lance.
The mom told KHOU 11:
“You know, I’m happy. This is is all for my son. Nobody forgot my son.”
Garage sales and flea markets are usually filled with all kinds of treasures. But this is one that will be cherished forever.