RICHMOND, Va. -- Tommy Sammons has never heard a bluegrass song he didn't like. From the spoons to the harmonica the Richmond native has been playing since he was knee high.
“I love life. It is better than what comes in second," said Sammons.
But the 86-year-old doesn't just carry a tune he carries on a tradition unlike anyone else.
“I just enjoy the freedom it allows me,” he said.
For Sammons stars and stripes truly are forever. It is a patriotism that is unrivaled.
“Red white and blue. Red white and blue I’ll tell you. It’s the best. Prettiest colors in the world," said Sammons.
At home inside and out. Old Glory is his constant companion.
"I love doing it,” he added.
Flags of all sizes fill his mini-van because you never know when a stranger needs a patriotic pick me up. He's given away thousands.
“I can’t count that high. I swear. I have no idea,” said Sammons.
His backyard shed and garage look like Sammons captured the market on all things Star Spangled Banner.
Sammons' respect for the flag stretches back decades. At 19 he served the country during the Korean War.
“I told my mom I was joining the Navy. So I went downtown and got sworn in," he said.
Sammons worked with a helicopter crew running search and rescue missions.
“I guess the guy upstairs was looking out for me," he said.
Sammons unfurls his deep love affair daily.
His loving and understating wife Barbara always knows what's on Tommy's Christmas wish list.
"Don’t buy him anything that is not red, white and blue. Because he is not going to wear it," said Barbara with a laugh.
Barbara remembers Sammons’ passion or obsession beginning shortly after someone gave him a flag themed jacket about thirty years ago.
“And it grew. And it grew. And it grew from there," said Barbara.
Barbara admires her husband's passion because it never, ever waivers.
Barbara said, “I have seen with my own eyes how he has touched people.”
The father of three always goes out in public giving Uncle Sam a run for his money.
His broad stripes and bright stars are fixtures at parades and memorials honors veteran past and present. Nothing hurts Sammons more than watching our national symbol desecrated.
“They ought to be ashamed of themselves," said Sammons. “They just don’t know.”
The veteran holds tight onto the memory of childhood friend Leslie Turner. Leslie never came home from WWII.
“Just a young man who didn’t get a chance to enjoy life. But it had to be done," said Sammons. “He got wounded and was put on a jeep. That jeep hit a mine. And that is what killed him.”
Don't bet on Sammons lowering his flag anytime soon.
“If there comes a point where my health isn’t good and I can’t do it. I’m still going to do it. I am not going to quit," he said.
Tommy Sammons is a Navy veteran who pledges that his colors will never run.
Red, white and blue.
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