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Culture Beat / September 3, 2020

Why a Chattanooga Vet Walks With a Flag

His immigrant father taught him love of country, as did serving in the U.S. Army.

One U.S. Army Special Forces veteran in Chattanooga has taken to walking for a couple of hours each day. So what, you say? Well, he walks while caring an American flag.

Six days a week, beginning about 6:45 a.m., Shawn Tobin walks for eight to 10 miles through town carrying Old Glory. “I’m starting to see the same families,” Tobin said. “They will scream, honk their horn.” He added, “The first couple of weeks I would count the number of honks during the week day, 350 to 400.”

Why does he do it? His father was born in Ireland and immigrated to Chicago at age 16 to work in the iron mills. He learned hard work and love of America from his dad. Back in the 1980s, Shawn joined the Army. “My unit was down in Honduras down in Central America. We trained Contras. Got to go to Korea with Team Spirit. Got to see a little bit of the world,” Tobin said. “I think that afforded me the opportunity once I became an educator to help out kids to realize that there’s more to the world than just the United States of America, and how lucky we really are to live in this country.”

It’s better to walk with a flag, he says, than to be on TV burning one.

“As a veteran I realize this isn’t just a symbol,” he said. “This really is hope and I think about the veterans on my mom’s side of the family, [as well as] the people who have suffered or who have died for the country.”

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