WEST BRIDGEWATER (CBS) – With a faded flag and battered pole in hand, James Deely knows it’s only a small victory.

“I didn’t pick it up to change the world,” he said. “But I’m thinking I’m glad I turned around.”

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He’s talking about his commute home on Route 24 last Friday, when he spotted an American flag on the highway with traffic trampling it – like some kind of road kill.

“That represents your country and the people who fight for your country,” said Deely. “It represents the freedom instilled in me since I was a kid.”

Flag on Route 24 (Image credit James Deely)

He immediately thought about reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as a kid, and the example he’s now trying to set for his young son Lincoln.

“Show him right from wrong,” the 33-year-old father said, “and make sure he understands what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

By the time James reached his exit in West Bridgewater he couldn’t get that flag out of his mind, and decided he HAD to go back and “rescue” it.

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So he returned to the spot and danced through traffic – retrieving it to a somewhat unexpected response.

James Deely (WBZ-TV)

“I picked the flag up and got a lot of passersby waving, giving me the thumbs up, and honking the horn,” Deely said.

When he brought it home, he knew it had fallen off someone’s truck or motorcycle.

And while his social media efforts haven’t located the owner, they have attracted a ton of “kudos” for his simple gesture of respect – and his willingness to act.

“That’s kind of where we’re at in the world,” said Deely. “Whether it’s a flag or something else, people just seem to pass by things without speaking up.”

Now he’s trying to find a respectful place for the Stars and Stripes in his home, where the story behind it might one day be a lesson for son Lincoln.

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“Sometimes the right thing to do makes you a better person,” he said.