Why Did Rochester’s Awesome Flag Waving Joe Start Waving Flags?
it's probably the 2nd most commonly asked question to Flag Waving Joe Johnson on 2nd Street in Rochester, Minnesota: Why did you start waving flags, Joe? (The first has to be, "How you doin' Joe?")
I've written a ton of stories about Joe, but the only reason he, or anyone, gave was, Joe wants us to smile, to know there's someone rooting for us. He's sharing his love. But today I learned it was something deeper...something sad...that got Joe started.
On Veterans Day, this is what was posted.
Seventeen years ago Joe's father passed away from the effects of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Joe cried grieving in his apartment for days. One day he decided to wave his American flag to honor his father.
He waved for 16 hours that day... and has been waving ever since. That's how Joe got started. His dad would be proud.
He would be proud, Joe. Very proud. And if you believe as I do, he IS proud of you. As are those of us lucky enough to see your smiling face, your waving flags, and your can of Pepsi.
What Is Agent Orange?
I'm sharing this info because the war that saw so many veterans and their families hurt by Agent Orange is a part of our history books, now.
Agent Orange is a herbicide and defoliant chemical used by the US Military during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971 (it's been used in other places, but we most commonly know about it because of Vietnam). It contains dioxin which has caused a major health problem for people who were exposed and their offspring (both in the US Military and in Vietnam, Cambodia, etc).
The soldiers were told not to worry, the chemical was harmless to humans. However, after they got home, their poor health, their wives' miscarriages, children born with birth defects, and later cancer and other illnesses appeared.
In 1977, they started filing claims for disability payments for problems they believed were related to their Agent Orange Exposure.
By April 1993, the Department of Veterans Affairs had compensated only 486 victims, although it had received disability claims from 39,419 soldiers who had been exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. (Source)
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