For WWII Veteran, Raising the American Flag is a Sacred Duty

For this World War II veteran, raising the American flag every day is a sacred duty that is part of his daily routine.

Thomas G. Riker is a very proud World War II veteran with a short and patriotic daily routine. Every morning he gets up, walks outside to his front yard, and raises his American flag for all to see. Then, the 95-year-old veteran quietly salutes the flag while he recites the first line of his old boy scout oath: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”

Later in the day, after Old Glory has seen some flying time, Riker takes her down in proper fashion. He also folds her according to the flag code.

California veteran raising American Flag
Thomas Riker and his American Flag

For Riker, this daily ritual is a 40 year-old tradition that he performs almost every day, unless the weather permits him otherwise.  His unwavering duty to the flag has also not gone without notice by his neighbors, who admire his dedication. One neighborhood lady called his dedication ‘inspiring for everyone.’

Another neighborhood resident, Joann Launder who has lived on Flower Street for 20 years said Riker is the perfect example of what their street is like. “To see this gentleman out there every single day, as old as he is, I just think that’s so sweet,” Launder said.

Riker also commented with, “When I’m putting it up, they either wave or salute or something. Even the fella that cleans the road, the road sweeper, on a Wednesday when he goes by and I’m putting it up, he waves.” The joy this veteran gets from raising his flag is so apparent; when he talks about it a huge smile crosses his face.

Unfortunately some neighborhood kids didn’t show the same admiration. A few years ago they ruined his flagpole, forcing Riker to buy a new one. But that didn’t stop him from his daily flag tradition. Riker goes through about one American flag per year.

Credit: LA Times

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