When 11-year-old Preston Sharp laid flowers at his grandfather’s grave on Veterans day two years ago, he noticed something strange: None of the other local veterans buried alongside his grandfather had flowers or flags on their graves. Not content to let this stand, the boy from Redding, California began a successful campaign to honor the grave of every veteran in Shasta County. He succeeded and now, to honor both his gesture and his commitment, he will attend President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Sharp is just one of several guests president Trump has invited to his first state of the union address. Along with the 11-year-old, the president invited an armed service veteran who lost both of his legs and his vision during the Iraq war, a California fireman who saved 62 people this summer, and four parents whose kids were killed by gang members. In an act of protest, some Democrats have elected to invite dreamers (beneficiaries of the DACA, a program the president dismantled) or to not attend at all. The most notable truant will be civil rights hero John Lewis of Georgia, who expressed a concern that he would be normalizing Trump’s racially inflammatory rhetoric.
What does all that mean for Sharp? Essentially that he gets to be the one person that everyone in Washington likes. His labor of love has inspired thousands of others to honor the veterans buried near them as well. It’s the least controversial movement out there right now and it seems to be gaining momentum. Each time Sharp visits more cemeteries, more and more people show up to thank him and help him clean graves and drop flowers. As of now, Sharp has already facilitated the placement of 40,000 flags and flowers at veterans grave. That number is going to go up.
From the onset of his crusade, the young boy has stuck by his motto: “We need to honor veterans every day and not just on a Holiday.” As a result he’s begun a new campaign to honor the graves of every US service member buried in the United States. As one would imagine, that means a huge bill for flags and flowers. To get it done Sharp has started a GoFundMe where he aims to raise $1 million. He’s raised $37,000 so far.