Facebook/Nashville Fire Department
Geff and Sandy Lee lost not one, but two businesses in the bombing that rocked downtown Nashville on Christmas.
Ensemble and Simply the Best $10 Boutique, the couple's neighboring 2nd Avenue stores, were both destroyed by the early morning explosion. Overnight, the family businesses were reduced to rubble.
"It's senseless and heartbreaking. It's memories, hopes and dreams. It's hard work, it's risk and it's loss," Geff wrote on his Facebook page in the aftermath of the bombing.
What he didn't know at the time, is that there was a symbol of hope waiting for police and firefighters in the debris: an American flag that had hung inside Simply the Best $10 Boutique.
"They were very choked up and I was like, 'wow!' It had a few tatters in it; it was a little bit dirty," Sandy told WKRN. "They said 'oh can we keep it?' We'd like to maybe hang it so we can display it to everybody and give some hope for some things that we're finding."
The couple gave the flag to the Nashville Fire Department in an effort to inspire them as they continue the difficult work of combing through the remains of numerous buildings.
"Here you have guys that have just risked everything. They've done a wonderful job and there's the flag. Just like throughout history there's always been a rally cry, and that flag has been the rally cry," Geff said.
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“We are bruised, but not broken.”
The flag held special significance to the Lee family since Geff was a veteran of the United States Army. It has been displayed proudly in the store since the day it opened 11 years ago.
Knowing this, first responders framed the flag, signed the back, and presented it to the Lees over the weekend.
"It was just so emotional," Geff told WKRN of the presentation. "It was guys from all walks of life, people with different religions, different color, everything! And everybody was surrounded by the flag. That was the symbol."