Patriotic runner's flag photo goes viral

Michael Tortorich
Drew Dale runs with the American flag June 28. The 16-year-old Scout's photo went viral on social media in the days leading up to the Independence Day holiday.
Photo courtesy Samuel Owen Jr.

A 16-year-old jogger carrying an American flag went viral on social media after a motorist snapped his photo.

Samuel Owen Jr. captured the shot of Drew Dale, who had been running along an Ascension Parish highway June 28. 

After hundreds of shares and reactions on Facebook, users wondered why the teenager was out running on such a hot and humid Sunday. Some recognized Dale as a Boy Scout affiliated with Scout Troop 69, which is based around St. Amant.

“I had decided to run with the flag that day because of recent tensions between Americans and the police departments across the country, and also in a show of respect to the people who have died fighting for the three greatest colors in the world and for our freedom,” Dale said. 

A friend showed him a video of someone burning a flag, and it motivated him to make a statement of his own. It was then that he decided to go out and run with the flag over his shoulder.

“Many people honked their horns, people offered water, people even offered money, but I didn’t want the money,” Dale said. “I wanted people to begin praying for the officers across the country and for their families because they have earned that.”

Dale’s grandmother, Kathy Brooks, said she didn’t know he planned to go out for a run with the flag.

“I asked him why, and he said, ‘I was trying to make a point,'” Brooks said. “We still live in a great country. I was very proud of him.”

A student at East Ascension High School in Gonzales and an employee of Chipotle, Dale has been working on his Eagle Scout project, his grandmother said.

“He loves his country, the flag, and the military,” Brooks added. “He just wants everyone to come together in unity.”

She said Dale plans on joining the Navy, and becoming a scuba diver. 

“I’m excited for him,” Brooks said. “It was a good day.”

His scout leader, Stuart Clouatre, also expressed his pride.

“As Andrew’s scout leader for the past 10 years, I have always seen a different spark in him. From the beginning, he has been a driven young man with a very strong desire to serve others and to get things done,” he said.

Clouatre called the display one of several where Dale has shown his capability. It was done without direction or suggestion.

“He is becoming a young man who is living the Scout Oath by doing his best to be ‘physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.’  As one of the mentors in his life, it was fulfilling to see his display of patriotism by carrying the flag through our community in an effort to unify us and show appreciation to all the men and women who serve our county,” he said.  “As a Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 69 in St. Amant, I speak for all of our leadership and scouts when I say we are extremely proud of him and are excited to see what his future brings.”