The bond between a father and son will last a lifetime, but sometimes it can be hard to show that affection. Some people live far from their kids and don't get to see them often, and this is even more true for parents of children in the military.
I can't imagine living so far from one of my kids, always worrying about whether or not they'll be safe while fighting for our freedom. Fifty-three-year-old Wayne Parfitt knows this all too well, as his son Joe is currently deployed oversees with the United States Army.
But anyone who lives in Newport News, Virginia will tell you that Wayne still bonds with his son, even though Joe is not around. Once or twice a week, Wayne will take to the streets and run six or more miles, all with an American flag in his hand.
However, on July 4th, Wayne ran an incredible 17.76 miles with the flag, symbolic of the year the United States was founded, saying he “felt it in [his] heart to run with the flag to honor my son, as well as all deployed.”
"July 4th is also my son's birthday and I knew I was going to run 17.76 miles and I thought that's a great idea," Wayne said.
“It is important to me because it changes the focus of my time. Not just a training run, but time to reflect, be proud and grateful for all our military,” he said. “I also feel that many times we drive by a flag, perhaps outside a building or ballpark, never giving it thought. To see someone running, alone, with the flag, gets it noticed.”
It's now been months since Wayne started running, and he'll often get honks from passing cars or salutes from pedestrians. One pedestrian, veteran Ed Ellington, took a photo of Wayne on his run and the photo went viral.
But Wayne never did it for the attention, he did it for his son.
"I felt in my heart that I should run with the flag as a way to honor him as a way to be thankful and be proud," Wayne said. "I get people blowing their horns, some thumbs up, even had a few people stop while walking and salute the flag and it gets you, it's pretty amazing."
Wayne also keeps yellow ribbons outside his house that say "Stay safe, come home" in honor of all those serving overseas.
All that running isn't just for fun, although Wayne does use it to reflect on times with his son. He is also training to run in the 14th full marathon.
We salute not only Wayne, but also his son Joe for their service and patriotism.