WILBRAHAM, Mass. (WWLP) – The flagpole outside Wingate of Wilbraham was knocked down over the winter, but the assisted living and rehab facility is not without a patriotic display this Memorial Day.

Army Specialist Darren Swallow took it upon himself to stand outside the facility holding a flag as a tribute to those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice. The veteran, who is disabled following multiple tours in Iraq, told 22News that he arrived at Wingate at around 3:30 A.M., and plans to stay there holding the flag until 1:00 P.M.

Soldier holding flag at Wingate in Wilbraham

Swallow said, “My girlfriend told me yesterday the flagpole behind us was taken down either during a storm or from a plow truck, so I thought I’d come down and honor our veterans, and let them know they have not been forgotten.”

Continuing Coverage: Memorial Day News

Anara Dupont, Swallow’s girlfriend, said, “He was very passionate about it when I told him we didn’t have a flag here, he is an angel, he is, he really is one of the best people I’ve ever met in my whole life.”

Swallow’s gesture honoring other veterans meant so much to Wingate employee Susan Huart, whose two children and a son-in-law are all in the service. “Pride. I mean it’s a feel good story, he’s celebrating the veterans because we didn’t have a flagpole, and he came to celebrate the veterans everywhere.”

To others, this gesture was inspirational, a moment in time to show their children. “Absolutely inspired, we came here just to thank him for his service. It’s phenomenal that he’s standing out here for the residents and for our country,” said Chris White of Monson.

Observed since 1868, Memorial Day honors all Americans who died in military service to our country.

Soldier holding flag shaking hands

UPDATE //Assisted living facility getting new flag pole