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America Supports You: Tiny Flag Offers Deployed Soldier Reminder of U.S. Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

UDAIRI RANGE, Kuwait, May 4, 2006 – For 20-year-old Army Pfc. Michael Torres, deployed here from Baumholder, Germany, a constant reminder that the American people are behind him comes in the form of a tiny folded U.S. flag he keeps in his pocket wherever he goes.

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Army Pfc. Michael Torres, deployed from Germany to Kuwait in support of the global war on terror, displays a tiny folded flag sent by VFW Ladies Auxiliary 7581, in Wayland, Mich., that he said gives him daily inspiration that the American people are behind him. Photo by Donna Miles
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Torres, who serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, discovered the flag in a mail shipment that arrived here, a training site for troops about to move into Iraq. "It showed up in the mail about two months ago, and I've had it in my pocket ever since," he said.

Sent by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary 7581, from Wayland, Mich., as part of the "Pocket Flag Project," the flag came in a waterproof bag with an accompanying note: "A flag for your pocket so you can always carry a little piece of home," it reads. "We are praying for you and are proud of you. Thank you for defending our country and our freedom."

"A lot of people forget what the flag really means and what freedom really is," said Torres, a native of Amarillo, Texas. "This shows that people recognize those things and provides a constant reminder."

Torres said it's tough being away from his family but finds comfort that they support him and believe in what he's doing. His 3-year-old son, Michael Jr., "is starting to understand why I'm gone," he said. "He's so proud that I'm in the Army."

But beyond the support of his family and friends, Torres said, it's a tremendous boost to know that the American people recognize and appreciate the contributions he and his fellow servicemembers are making. "It keeps us going," he said. "If it wasn't for the support of our country, it would be a lot harder to be here fighting for it."

Margaret Abbott, a Middleville, Mich., resident who helped orchestrate her VFW auxiliary's Pocket Flag Project, was ecstatic to learn that it's meaningful to the troops it aims to support. Abbott understands personally the sacrifices U.S. servicemembers make every day: Her husband was in the military and her grandson served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division.

So Abbott and her fellow auxiliary members, along with a local Girl Scout troop that pitched in to help, have bought, folded, packaged and mailed several hundred little flags to remind U.S. servicemembers that the American people support them.

"It's important that we support them, because they're defending our country," she said. "These guys are putting their lives on the line so we can be free."

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