SMYTH COUNTY, Va. - Typically when kids get ready for a birthday party, they've got a big list full of the latest toys; but one boy in Marion didn't ask for anything like that when he celebrated his seventh birthday this week.
Mason Pugh didn't want toys or video games for his birthday. Instead, his goal was to raise money for seven American flags for his seventh birthday, just in time for Memorial Day. "They fought for us so they can keep us safe. Memorial Day is a very special day because the [military] is very good to us," says Mason.
Mason gave the American flags to the VFW Post in Marion. "They do a lot of good stuff for us," adds Mason.
Mason's dad, Joel Pugh, says their family held a kickball tournament for Mason's birthday to help raise money. "Instead of bringing presents, we asked them to bring donations. We were able to purchase seven flags to donate to the VFW," he said.
VFW Post Commander Herbert Johnson says when Mason and his family brought the flags to the post, they were speechless. "For a small boy to think about the veterans and want to do something for the veterans, and bring the money for the flags, it was really heartwarming," he said.
Johnson says this year there are more than 700 crosses and flags in front of the courthouse. They are in memory of military veterans who are no longer with us.
Johnson says the flags from Mason will help keep the display of respect looking in top condition. "They are getting a little faded with the weather. They are losing their glow, so to speak, and we want to get them replaced," he said.
Mason's dad says the flag donation didn't only impact their family, but it's helped others understand the importance of Memorial Day. "It was great, not just for Mason, but it was nice for the other folks that joined in and gave so generously. It's nice to give back to our community," he said.
Herbert Johnson says the VFW wants to make sure children understand the importance of Memorial Day and receiving Mason's donation proves even the smallest Americans can make a difference.