Get our free mobile app

it's probably the 2nd most commonly asked question to Flag Waving Joe Johnson on 2nd Street in Rochester, Minnesota: Why did you start waving flags, Joe?  (The first has to be, "How you doin' Joe?")

(Credit Second Street Waving Guy—Joe Johnson)

I've written a ton of stories about Joe, but the only reason he, or anyone, gave was, Joe wants us to smile, to know there's someone rooting for us. He's sharing his love. But today I learned it was something deeper...something sad...that got Joe started.

On Veterans Day, this is what was posted.

Seventeen years ago Joe's father passed away from the effects of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Joe cried grieving in his apartment for days. One day he decided to wave his American flag to honor his father.

Joe Johnson's Dad (close up of photo above) (Credit Second Street Waving Guy—Joe Johnson)

He waved for 16 hours that day... and has been waving ever since. That's how Joe got started. His dad would be proud.

He would be proud, Joe. Very proud. And if you believe as I do, he IS proud of you. As are those of us lucky enough to see your smiling face, your waving flags, and your can of Pepsi.

What Is Agent Orange?

I'm sharing this info because the war that saw so many veterans and their families hurt by Agent Orange is a part of our history books, now.

Agent Orange is a herbicide and defoliant chemical used by the US Military during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971 (it's been used in other places, but we most commonly know about it because of Vietnam). It contains dioxin which has caused a major health problem for people who were exposed and their offspring (both in the US Military and in Vietnam, Cambodia, etc).

25th October 1968: Troops on patrol with Lieutenant Colonel Colin 'Mad' Mitchell. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images)

The soldiers were told not to worry, the chemical was harmless to humans. However, after they got home, their poor health, their wives' miscarriages, children born with birth defects, and later cancer and other illnesses appeared.

18th April 1968: US Marines run from enemy gunfire to board a helicopter at Khe Sanh during the Vietnam War. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

In 1977, they started filing claims for disability payments for problems they believed were related to their Agent Orange Exposure.

By April 1993, the Department of Veterans Affairs had compensated only 486 victims, although it had received disability claims from 39,419 soldiers who had been exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. (Source)

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 28: Former United States Marine Frank Corcoran (R), a member of Veterans for Peace, hugs Ho Sy Hai, a veteran of the North Vietnamese Army, during an event bringing together victims of the use of Agent Orange, a defoliant widely used by the U.S military in the war in Vietnam at the Vietnam War Memorial Wall November 28, 2005 in Washington, DC. In 1991 U.S. veterans of the War in Vietnam won limited disability benefits for certain illnesses caused by Agent Orange though Vietnamese victims have not. Corcoran has suffered from prostate cancer; Ho Sy Hai has suffered from chronic hepatitis, ulcers, enterocolitis, and prostate cancer. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

As always, if you have a comment, complaint, or concern about something I wrote here, please let me know: james.rabe@townsquaremedia.com

Listen On-Demand with the Y105FM app, and on the following podcast platforms: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

There's A Lot of Great Rochester Non Profits, This Is One.

If you've not heard of The Landing, scroll slowly...

The Landing, MN is giving the homeless in Rochester, Minnesota a place to land.

While Rochester, Minnesota is home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic, it is also home to many who are facing homelessness. Thankfully, in 2018, The Landing MN was founded which is a resource-based non-profit organization that assists multiple individuals with fulfilling needs, such as handling medical resources, seeking housing, and obtaining necessities for day-to-day living. Get a glimpse at the impact The Landing, MN is making in the community at the photos below and at their website here.