VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — On Haverhill Drive in Virginia Beach, it’s easy to see where patriotism lives.
“I was always told to respect the flag,” said resident Donald Hart.
Hart comes from a family of patriots.
“My dad was in World War II, my grandfather was in World War I and I had a great-great-grandfather who was in the Civil War,” Hart added.
Hart spent 22 years as a sailor.
“Serving in the U.S. Navy was what I was most proud of,” he said.
That’s why when news broke of 13 service members killed last week in Afghanistan, it was too close to home.
“You think everything is going right and then all of the sudden somebody throws the thunderbolt at you,” Hart added.
What happened left Hart heartbroken.
“I know these families are devastated,” Hart said. “I just thought it would be appropriate to doing my little part.”
As the 13 service members arrived home for funerals, Hart poured his grief in his front yard in the form of 13 flags.
“I’m thinking about these soldiers, Marines and Navy,” he added.
It’s a way to never forget them — and the others lost in war. In 1968, Hart’s first cousin James Miller was killed in Vietnam. He was 20 years old.
“He was like a big brother,” Hart said. “When he was doing his service over there, we all thought he was too smart and he would get [out]. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
His cousin is the reason a 14th flag is also flapping in the wind at Hart’s house.
“They protected our liberty, our freedoms and they make the ultimate sacrifice,” Hart said. “I just want to make sure we remember them.”