Fresno Soldier Returns, Tattered Flag Comes Down

August 7, 2009 9:23:00 AM PDT
It's a story that gained national attention when a Fresno father refused to take down a torn and tattered American flag.Louis Haros says his son Paul put up the flag before leaving for his second tour in Iraq. Haros promised his son it would stay up until his return. That family reunion finally happened.

The debate over the dingy flag is over. Peace has been restored to a Fresno neighborhood. A new flag waves above the Haros home after their son's happy homecoming.

Corporal Paul Haros stepped back into the arms of his family and into a controversy over the ripped, faded and worn out flag that has hung outside his parents home during his yearlong tour. He said, "It's an honor you know that my father flew the flag and he stayed with his promise to me. When I put it up there, we never imagined it would tear or anything but I guess with the weather and it just took a good beating and stuff."

Louis Haros is Paul's father, and a Vietnam Veteran himself. The second he saw his son was safe and smiling, he wanted to get down to business. He said, "I'm glad he's home and we're going to go home and put down the flag before I get shot."

Passerby's and some neighbors thought leaving the flag up in such shabby condition was disrespectful. Bryan Walters was one of them. He even bought the Haros a new flag and left it on their porch. Then, he learned about the meaning behind letting it fly as it was. "I respect that with my heart. You know and when he told me he would change it but only when his son came home, I thought that was great," said Walters.

An entourage of veterans accompanied Paul to his home. Even though he's been practicing for the occasion, he felt both nervous and proud. He said, "It meant a lot to me that he stood up for it. And here we are. So I'm glad to be home. I'm glad to take it down so people can put it to rest."

A handful of platoon leaders helped, before the flag was handed back to dad. The Haros have a long tradition of military service. The American flag is very symbolic to the family and they understand how others felt. Louis said, "I'm on a busy street and I think for a lot of people that's what it was. I'm glad everything is back to normal now."

The old flag will be passed on to Paul's son, along with its story. As for those who live nearby, they say they're happy the neighborhood will return to the friendly place it was before all this.

Paul Haros says he followed the story from Iraq and was surprised and overwhelmed by all of the attention it got. He says he's looking forward to his mother's home cooking and returning to work as a Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy.

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