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Hammond man flies flag over freeway

Greg Burton took up his post on the Interstate 94 overpass near Hammond holding an American flag for 10 hours on Veterans Day.1 / 2
As Greg Burton displayed the U.S. flag on Veterans Day, passing motorists honked and waved their approval.2 / 2

There were countless Veterans Day ceremonies throughout the country last Friday. While many of those ceremonies took place in parks or auditoriums filled with people, one Hammond man shared his patriotic pride with thousands of people he'll never actually meet.

For 10 hours last Friday Greg Burton sat on the Interstate 94 overpass near Hammond holding an American flag.

"A flag, it's non-political, it just makes a statement," he said. "It says, 'hey, I love my country and everything that's with it.'"

While he sat on a small wooden stool on that cold windy day, the Vietnam veteran's simple gesture touched thousands of passersby.

After getting situated in the middle of the overpass, Burton said he received responses from motorists passing by.

"Within minutes cars were honking, lights were flashing, people were giving me thumbs up and waving from their sunroofs and windows," he said. "It's an indescribable feeling. The response was just amazing. It brings tears to your eyes."

It's the response from those people that he'd never met that kept Burton going throughout the day.

"It was cold Friday, oh that wind, but it seemed like every time I wanted to quit and come in somebody else would come by and thank me, or just want to shake my hand, or offer me a candy bar or coffee," he said. "It just spurred me on and I thought nope I've got to stay here."

Throughout the day police and patrol officers checked on Burton and a county employee even dropped off an orange safety cone, as a precaution, since drivers on the overpass were just feet away from the flag bearer.

Burton said the support he received from his freeway flag shows that there is still hope for our country which sometimes seems discombobulated.

"The response from all the motorists, their enthusiasm and excitement, that speaks about our pride and patriotism. As crazy as this country is, the response from those people show that we have good hope yet," he said.

Burton said this Veterans Day wasn't the first time he sat on the overpass with the flag. He held the flag over the freeway on Flag Day and 9/11 this year, after being inspired by a Hudson man who had done the same thing three years ago.

Burton says he will continue to fly the flag over the freeway in the future too. He's even looking into buying a Santa costume to wear while he displays the flag in December.

"It is such a wonderful experience. I will continue to do it," he said.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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