MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — Operation Flags of Freedom is an organization that started ten years ago to honor fallen heroes in Northeast Ohio and today they are doing just that.
Calling hours for Officer Shane Bartek are taking place from 4 to 8 p.m. at Grace Church. Anyone attending or passing by will see flags placed along the street in front of the church and along the parking lot driveway in his honor.
Project organizer Steve Toohey says he’s expecting hundreds of flags to be planted today and it’s all free of charge.
“We want to make sure the family knows we care. We want the community to know that we care, too,” Toohey said in an interview with FOX 8. “These are men and women who put their lives on the line every day. Kind of a thankless job. We just want to make sure we honor this young man.”
The organization started when a friend of Toohey’s family, Sergeant Daniel Patron, was killed in Afghanistan and the family wanted to figure out a way to make sure he’s never forgotten.
“We do this for many funerals for veterans and first responders,” he said. “As much as it’s with a heavy heart we do it with, we know this blesses the family. We know it lifts their spirit to see that the United States flag and the thin blue line flag unite us in the same common cause.”
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has ordered that flags of the United States and the State of Ohio be flown at half-staff upon all public buildings and grounds throughout Cuyahoga County, the Ohio Statehouse, The Vern Riffe Center, and the Rhodes State Office Tower until sunset on the day of his funeral, January 11.