WYTHEVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) People were out in droves Thursday in Wytheville to see an American flag make a stop on its cross country tour. But it's not just for show. The flag is doing something meaningful for the families of service men and women.
The flag was flown on a UH-60M Blackhawk Helicopter on a combat mission in support of U.S. and Coalition ground forces in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom 2012.
It was donated to Pepsi by the 101st Airborne Division. Pepsi is driving it from California to White Plains, New York with some very special drivers.
The flag arrived at the Pepsi Plant in Wytheville Thursday with a police and fire escort. But it's who's in the trucks handling the flag that's very important. Each of the Pepsi drivers is a military veteran.
On Thursday, George Bradshaw and Jessie Boyd handed the flag off to David Nelson and Michael King after bringing the flag from Columbia, South Carolina.
"It feels really good, you know? I've been participating a lot in the past and it's sort of an honor, I'm looking forward to it," King, a Vietnam War Veteran from Pulaski, said.
"Being able to do something like this, you count it as a privilege and you treat it with the utmost respect and honor because you're thinking about all the fallen heroes that paid with the ultimate sacrifice of their lives," Bradshaw, an Iraq War Navy Veteran from Abingdon, said.
On top of thinking of them, the ceremonies like Thursday's that are happening around the country raise money for the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.
"This is an organization that supports their kids who are still here," Pepsi Senior Transport Manager Brian Huff said. "It's to provide them a college education, and we think it ties in really well with Memorial Day as we lead into it."
Congressman Morgan Griffith was also there and said support of the foundation is crucial in helping these families.
"While the government has programs to do some assistance, there's no way everything can do it all," Griffith said. "This helps to bridge that gap between money that may be available for part of their college and the rest of those expenses might have and lets them know that we as American citizens honor their fallen parent."
The flag will leave the Pepsi plant in Wytheville Friday morning heading to the Gatorade Plant in Wytheville and then on to Indianapolis.
In the first year this was done, the Rolling Remembrance raised $50,000. Last year it was $100,000. As of Thursday, this year's trip is on pace to raise $500,000 for families of fallen heroes.