Veteran displays hundreds of flags in memory of 9/11 victims

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "A couple of my friends were killed up at 9/11 that I served in Vietnam with," said Joe Caracappa.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran remembers two firefighters and one police officer who paid the ultimate sacrifice on September 11, 2001.

"They knew they had a job to do. They didn't care what was going on," he said. "That was their job to go rescue."

15 years ago, Caracappa decided he would pay tribute to these fallen heroes in his own small way. Each year, he displays upwards of 350 American flags on his front lawn to represent firefighters and police officers who died attempting to save lives that day.

"A lot of people come by, they stop, they look, they take pictures, bless themselves," he said. "And if people ask me for flags, I give it to them free, no charge."

Caracappa seems to be known around his Roxborough neighborhood for being a source of unwavering patriotism.

"Joe always puts flags everywhere in the neighborhood, but this is a special day for him," said Linda Avila.

Larger American flags guide the way along the street to Caracappa's house. It provides an opportunity for passersby to reflect and remember that tragic day two decades ago.

"You can't do enough for these people. They were innocent, good people, and it's always in my mind," said Joe's wife, Ginny Caracappa. "We want the younger generation to know and to feel what we feel."

Caracappa served with the Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970 and survived 13 months in Vietnam. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal for saving a fellow serviceman's life. After returning home, he worked at the Post Office and started his own painting business. He is happy to be retired and uses his time to get involved with the community and demonstrate support for those who serve the country.

When asked how long he plans to honor 9/11 victims with flags on his lawn, he said, "until the day I die."

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