For The Potomac News
Ron Cooper, 51-year-old vice president of the GDC Trucking Company in Woodbridge, placed small American flags on the mirrors of his fleet of more than 100 trucks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
But, to him, that was not enough.
“We regularly move old trucks out and replace them with new ones,” Cooper said, “We decided to paint [the new trucks] in a flag motif.”
With the help of Barney Squires, of Performance Auto Crafters in Orange County, Cooper arranged to have the company’s three new trucks painted with the American flag.
“Just like everyone after September 11th, we wanted to do something to show our support and patriotism,” Cooper said, “To me the flag symbolizes the freedom we have to live our lives.”
Cooper hopes the trucks will touch those who see them and spread the message of freedom, he said.
“It’s really gratifying for our drivers to hear positive feedback when they drive by,” Cooper said. “We get lots of waves and smiles from people. Customers call us to ask for the flag trucks.”
The company has received repeated requests to send the flag trucks from one special customer.
“These trucks are used almost exclusively at the Pentagon,” Cooper said.
Before the flag trucks were available, the company regularly sent several of its trucks, which are primarily used to haul sand and dirt away from construction sites, to the Pentagon to help remove debris. Now that the flag trucks are available, they are always requested, Cooper said.
“The people at the Pentagon seem to like to see these trucks there,” he said. “The flag trucks have hauled a lot of rubble away from there.”
This was not the first time in his 20 years in the trucking business that Cooper and his trucking company sought to show patriotism.
When Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in the early 90s, the company responded by sending trucks carrying more than 100 tons of donated food to the area most devastated by the hurricane.
“We were just reaching out to help people then,” he said.
These trucks reached Florida even before government food and aid arrived there, Cooper said.
“To me being an American is about freedom and remembering the price that so many people paid for our country,” Cooper said. “I worry that the new generation doesn’t understand that and that idea will be lost on them.”
For his part, Cooper has worked to pass on the idea of freedom and patriotism to his youngest son, Jonathan, a recent Forest Park High School graduate who celebrated his 18th birthday on the Fourth of July.
“I’ve always told him how important that day is. I tell him that when he’s older it will be even more important to him and he’ll pass the celebration of that day on to his children,” Cooper said.
Cooper hopes that the trucks will serve as a reminder of patriotism and freedom to those who see them.
“Freedom is a very fragile thing and we should be vigilant in protecting it,” he said.