This is not your typical story about teenagers doing bad things. It’s much better than that.
Sure, taking American flags from yards wasn’t the smartest choice for a 16-year-old boy. He and a friend could have faced criminal charges for stealing the flags, part of an Optimist Club fundraiser in Cherokee County.
But on Wednesday, one of the boys did the right thing. He admitted what he did. And he apologized.
In front of the Towne Lake Optimist Club luncheon, the teen admitted to taking the flags and giving one to a friend. Then, he told club members he had lied to detectives when asked about the missing flags. Accompanied by his mother, the teen appeared mature beyond his years as he asked the civic club for forgiveness.
It didn’t end there. The teen also volunteered to help the Optimists with their “Avenue of Flags” event next year by finding new customers willing to pay $35 to have an American flag displayed at their home or business on six federal holidays.
Optimist Club members, as well as sheriff deputies, attending the luncheon were so moved by the teen’s words and actions, that charges against the teen and his friend will be dropped, Lt. Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said. Seven flags are still missing, but those who have them are asked to return them to the Eagle Watch subdivision clubhouse, no questions asked.
What a refreshing story for this young man, doing the right thing after a criminal act. Surely his parents played a role in his decision to confess to the Optimist Club. But only he could speak the words with the honesty and integrity, impressing those in the audience.
To his father, the boy’s actions to redeem himself are not worthy of celebration. Grabbing two flags was a spur-of-the minute decision, and an admittedly bad one.
Instead, it’s a story about forgiveness. It’s a lesson we can all learn.