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Vista residents celebrate Memorial Day with largest painted flag on the West Coast

The 11,000-square-foot flag at Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum pays tribute to fallen veterans.

VISTA, Calif. — Vista residents are celebrating Memorial Day with a supersized version of the red, white, and blue. In this Zevely Zone, I visited Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum for a tribute to our veterans. Sometimes bigger is better. That's what Vista resident T.J. Crossman thought when he dreamed up the idea of painting an 11,000-square-foot American flag on a field of hope. 

"When you get up there it's pretty amazing," said T.J. 

"We painted this flag to honor all of the people who sacrificed their lives for America," said Crossman who sits on the museum's board.  

Credit: T.J. Crossman

T.J. is the owner of T.J. Crossman's Auto Repair.  He is known for his community service.  In the past, T.J. has organized turkey drives to feed the hungry on Thanksgiving.  T.J. has also given away several cars to deserving teenagers. This may be his biggest project yet. 

A few days before Memorial Day, Vista residents painted the hill with patriotism.  T.J. started what he hopes to be a long tradition last year during COVID-19 lockdown. 

Credit: T.J. Crossman

"To me, it all starts right here, this is America this is the best country in the whole entire world," said T.J.  

Last year, the entire field was filled with weeds and wheat.  The land that overlooks the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum had to be scraped down to nothing to start all over. 

"We do need something like this to get us together," said T.J. in 2020.  

The Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum is a nonprofit organization that sits on 55 acres of land in Vista. It's the perfect place to blow off some steam and slow things down where tractors can live out their golden years.

Credit: T.J. Crossman

Ashley Jaques, the museum's Executive Director, calls the organization a salute to the past. 

"I love that a 5-year-old can come out and help and an 80-year-old and they can get together and find a common interest," said Ashley.

The museum celebrates our country's history.  We asked Patriot Guard Riders and a member of the nonprofit Honoring our Fallen about the meaning of Memorial Day. 

RELATED: Field of 'American Dreams' painted on Vista hill

"It is a day to honor the veteran men and women who gave it all to keep us free," said Patriot Guard Rider Steve Crouch.

Credit: KFMB TV

"It's a day that we are to gather, BBQ, have good times with our family but first and foremost it is a day for us to pause and reflect and remember the men and women who signed that blank check and raised that hand and took that oath and sacrificed their life for the freedoms that we have to do that," said Laura Herzog from the nonprofit organization Honoring our Fallen.

The museum offers educational and recreational opportunities to the public through exhibits, demonstrations, activities, and programs. Since 1976, the museum has grown to become one of the premier educational and recreational facilities in North San Diego County.

RELATED: 'Unknown Sailor' from Pearl Harbor attack identified and laid to rest 80 years later

The Memorial Day flag tribute was free to the public.  Visitors enjoyed free hot dogs, a band, and a patriotic airplane flyover. If you'd to visit the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum admission for adults is $5.00. Seniors 65 and older: $4.00. Youth 6-12 years old: $3.00. Children 5 & under: Free.  

The Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum is always looking for new members, volunteers, and visitors.  If you are interested in more information, click here.