News Release, Prince George’s County Police Department

On July 17th, a man named Tom Jarrett was driving along Central Ave when he saw a folded American flag in a shattered glass display case in the middle of the road. Jarrett stopped, walked out in traffic, and picked up the flag.  

The glass case was destroyed but the flag was in near pristine condition minus a tiny amount of road burn.  Jarrett, a Navy veteran himself, knew the folded flag had to be special to someone.  He brought the flag to the District II station of the Prince George’s County Police Department where five PGPD Officers, all military veterans, proudly accepted the lost American flag with hopes of finding its true owner.  

The story of the lost flag was featured on social media and on local news. 
Flag turned in:

Not long after, William Holley, a 79-year-old Prince George’s County resident called the PGPD and said his daughter saw the story on the news, called her Dad, and asked if it was the family’s flag. It turned out it was, and it was a very special flag indeed.   

Holley explained to the PGPD that the flag was given to the family after the passing of a 90-year-oldUncle named Marcellus Herod.  He said Herod had been one of the estimated 380,000 African American soldiers who fought in Europe during World War I.   

Marcellus Herod

On July 17th, Holley was in the slow process of moving homes.  He had driven his truck along Central Avenue filled to the brim with boxes and household items.  

During the trip, while stopped at a light, he said a stranger pulled up to next to his truck and said they had just seen something drop out of his truck.  Holley turned around and retraced his journey but the flag was gone.  

Unbeknownst to Holley, another kind stranger, Tom Jarrett, had already picked it up.  Today the two men met.  The PGPD Honor Guard handed the lost flag to Chief Hank Stawinski who placed it in back in the hands of its longtime owner. 

Flag returned:

The story of the lost flag took PGPD to Brown Memorial AME Church in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Northeast DC. 

Brown Memorial AME Church

A small plaque featuring the name of Marcellus Herod sits beneath a window at the church next to a pew that his family affectionately calls the ‘family pew.’  Herod and his wife, also deceased, were faithful patrons of the church and their family followed.  Holley who was married to Herod’s niece is annually honored at the church on Veterans Day.  Holly is also an Army Veteran.  He fought in the Vietnam War.  

William Holley

It was Holley’s wife, Herod’s niece, who had placed the Uncle’s memorial flag in a glass display case years before her passing in 1984. The flag was featured at the top of a bookcase in the family’s home for more than 30 years. It was a centerpiece honoring the love of country and of service to others.  And now its return serves as a reminder to us all of the kindness of strangers.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...