ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque veteran made an upsetting discovery Wednesday while driving her son to school. Now she’s using social media to bring awareness.
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Deserie Garcia’s day took a turn when she passed by Candelaria and Pan American Frontage Road and noticed a half-burned American flag. “My stomach got really tight. You know I was kind of upset as soon as I’d seen it. at first, I was like you know…did I really just see that,” said Garcia.
Garcia is a 10 year Navy veteran with deployments in Iraq and Kuwait. “Take it to heart when I see our flag or the country disrespected in any way,” said Garcia. “I was upset and I knew I needed to do something about it.”
She pulled over to dispose of the flag properly, documenting the whole thing on the social media app, TikTok. “I just wanted to bring awareness. I’m a veteran so I believe that if you are going to dispose of a flag, it should be in the proper way,” she said. Garcia brought the flag to the non-profit, Forward Flag. They put the flag in a box and held a ceremony with a moment of silence followed by the pledge of allegiance. The flag was then buried.
Garcia’s TikTok has been viewed more than 14,000 times and she hopes people think twice when retiring a U.S. flag. “Reach out to somebody. Reach out to a veteran, reach out to Forward Flag, that’s a nonprofit organization, reach out to somebody that you know, knows how to properly dispose of our flag,” she said. “I’m just asking that you know, people not disrespect our flag or our country.”
While a flag burning ceremony can be considered a proper way to dispose of a U.S. flag, Garcia doesn’t think whoever burned this flag did so with respect since the flag was only partially burned, on display, and had ashes and flag scraps left on the ground.
Garcia said most people have responded positively to her video though a few critiqued her handling of the flag since it touched the ground. Garcia said she apologized to those she offended and explained she was doing the best she could at the moment.