"The people of this town are awesome."
That's the opinion of Sheri Thomas, owner of Sheri's Coffee House, after she witnessed an act of patriotism and respect from the window of her Benedict Avenue business on New Year's Day.
Thomas said she was working behind the counter on Tuesday when frequent customers Tom Root and his son Travis, now a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, leaped from their seats by the window and rushed outside.
"I heard a commotion and looked up. You could see the panic in their faces," Thomas said. "They said 'The flag broke' and rushed outside."
She rushed to the glass front of her building and saw the Roots hurrying across the street to the post office, where the rope holding the U.S. flag and a Missing In Action (MIA) flag up had snapped.
By the time her customers could cross the road, an unidentified man had stopped his vehicle next to the post office and the three rescued the fallen flags.
"It was so heartwarming," Thomas said. "It was so very touching to see the love and the caring they had for our country and our flag."
The three men took the time to properly and respectfully fold the flags.
'It was just so patriotic, the way they handled the flags," Thomas said. "This was starting the new year off right people still respect the flag."
Tom Root said he never learned the name of the motorist who helped - "just a guy in a Cincinnati Bearcats sweatshirt who turned onto Monroe from Whittlesey and jumped out."
Root thanked the man while the three were folding the flag.
"He said, 'You can't go by and leave the flag on the ground'," Root said.
The men didn't want attention for their actions. They simply folded the flags and left them in the lobby of the post office with a note explaining the rope had snapped no names.
Post office personnel found the flags when they returned from the New Year's Day holiday Wednesday morning and have already ordered new nylon line. Thomas said the Roots shrugged off her praise when they returned to finish their coffee, but she knows they aren't the only ones in their family with respect for Old Glory.
T.J. Root, Tom's son and Travis' brother, is a West Point graduate now serving in Iraq. At the moment his father and brother were taking care of the flag in Norwalk, T.J. was flying security for General David Petraeus, U.S. Commander for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Thomas said scenes like the one she saw Tuesday restores her faith that patriotic fervor still exists in the country. It also reinforces her desire to be a part of small-town America.
"There's nothing better," she said than running a business in a place like Norwalk. "I love this."