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Sanitation Worker Saves Hundreds Of American Flags Tossed In Trash

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's an unusual story of patriotism being expressed in an even more unusual way.

As CBS 2's Scott Rapoport reported Friday, a Rockaway Park man, unafraid to get his hands dirty, has been collecting American flags that were thrown in the trash in order to give them the respectful disposal they deserve.

Sanitation worker Ed Shevlin, 57, says some were found scrunched up in the back of his garbage truck.

"The flag deserves more than a place in the hopper of the sanitation truck," Shevlin said.

About a year ago, Shevlin started rescuing flags he found in the trash; gathering big ones, small ones, and enormous ones, preparing them for a proper, dignified disposal.

"Right now in my car there's a little over 700 flags," he said. "The flags get burned in a very respectful ceremony."

Ask him why he does this, and you'll learn everything you need to know about this one of a kind guy.

"So many people have died for this flag. So many people have been willing to give their lives for this flag," he said. "That stands for so much more than any other symbol we have in this country."

In the last year word has spread of Shevlin's work, and now organizations bring their tattered flags directly to him.

"People come out of their homes with their children and actually present me with flags," he said.

On Saturday at a ceremony at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point all of the flags were to be ignited, retired with the respect and deference they deserve.

Shevlin was to be presented with a special commendation at Saturday's ceremony.

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