Inside his neighbor Mr. Lee’s garage in Alabaster, Alabama, 11-year-old Brooks Bedsole makes special gifts for the people he thinks many of us take for granted.
"I've been doing this about a year now,” Brooks said of his custom-made wooden American blue line flags.
Brooks gave his first flag to a man he respects the most: His father, Lt. Russell Bedsole.
“So originally it was meant for my dad as a Christmas present, and I saw how much it meant to him," recalled Brooks.
Soon after that, a spark ignited in Brooks to make another flag after witnessing Hoover police Lt. Clint Blackmon being mistreated during heated protests last year.
"He was being yelled at and I wanted to make a flag for him at that time,” said Brooks.
It was then that Brooks realized his hobby would become his calling.
"There's a lot more violence and gun crime,” said Brooks, referring to the six Alabama law enforcement officials who lost their lives in gun-related incidents in 2019.
It’s a fact that hit close to home to this child of a police officer.
"It's a little nerveracking to me because there are so many killed in the line of duty,” said Brooks.
Right after the first officer was killed, Brooks thought maybe his flags could somehow help comfort families of the fallen officers. He began personally delivering his flags, made especially for each officer, to their families and fellow officers who worked with them.
"I just know it's going to mean a lot to that family - you're letting the family know they're loved - and they're thought about," said Brooks.
To help raise money for his materials, Brooks had to make more flags. To date, he has sold dozens of them through his Facebook site “Brooks American Blue Designs” just to keep up with the unfortunate high demand for his flags for the fallen.
WAAY TV was there as Brooks carefully crafted his latest personally designed flag for Huntsville STAC Agent Billy Clardy III, who was gunned down during a drug bust last year.
While Brooks admits he doesn't know much about how Clardy died, he thinks about his courage as a police officer protecting us.
And that fact alone is enough for him to travel with his father more than 100 miles to made another special delivery on Friday to Huntsville police officers who worked closely with Clardy. The flag is expected to be passed along to Clardy’s family.
"I hope (the Clardy family and police officers) know they are loved,” said Brooks. “It's not like they're alone in this.”
"They know that that flag was built especially for him - his memory and to thank him for his service to the community, said Russell.
Make no mistake, Brooks’ calling is more than just a flag presentation. It’s a deep appreciation from a boy with a servant’s heart.
“He’s finding a way to serve others - it's truly amazing,” said Russell. “Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that he's only 11.”
This young man’s has incredible passion to salute those who answer the call for us every day. It’s about duty and honor thats remembered and cherished especially by a child who simply wanted to do his small part to give back to those who have given their lives.
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