RALEIGH, N.C. — On Christmas Eve 2008, Virginia Goulding received a present she waited almost 8 years for – a replacement for an American flag lost in a fire in 2000.
Virginia got her original flag at her husband William's military funeral.
On Wednesday, she shared the story of their courtship and his patriotism, and planned to share her new flag with the next generation of Gouldings.
On the Dec. 8, 1941, Virginia waited for her date with young William. But he didn't show. He had gone to enlist in the Army, a move prompted by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
William and Virginia Goulding married shortly before the young lieutenant shipped off to war. He worked in military intellegence and rose to the rank of captain.
When he passed away in 1970, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs presented Virginia with the flag. She treasured the gift and dreamed of using the flag to teach her grandchildren about William.
"I wanted them to know that this was their grandfather's flag," she recalled.
When it was destroyed in a fire on Christmas morning in 2000, she sought a replacement, only to find that Veterans Affairs does not provide replacements.
So she turned to North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller.
On Christmas Eve, Miller presented Virginia, 87, with a special flag -- one that flew over the Capitol on Sept. 11.
A grateful Virginia said the replacement is an appropriate honor.
The first military attack on U.S. soil inspired her husband to join the army. She plans to use the Sept. 11 flag to teach her grandchildren about William's sacrifice.