Northeast Tennessee

It’s just a flag—like F3 is just a workout

Northeast Tennessee

To the guy now in possession of our flag:

It’s just a flag—pieces of dyed fabric, sewn together and placed on a metal pole. The flag you took is normally attached to a shovel that traveled 220 miles from Lexington South Carolina and was planted in Johnson City soil on June 11, 2016. Saturday, the day the flag was taken, was the 50th time that shovel flag had been planted in the ground.

It’s only a flag—it costs less than $10 at Lowes—but you should know a little about what’s in your possession and what it represents. First and foremost, it represents respect—respect for county, respect for those who have served and currently serve to protect our freedoms, and respect for the other 881 AO’s across F3 Nation where similar flags are planted every week. It represents respect for the men who started F3, those who came before us, and those who will come after us. It represents respect for any man who’s willing to put it on the line and choose to do the harder thing—respect.

That flag also represents hard work—it bears witness to the blood, sweat, and tears of the men of F3 who gather together at some obscenely early hour to get better physically. Over 80 men of Johnson City have gathered around that flag at least once. That flag has rippled in the wind as 35 men run, walk, crawl, jump, squat, sit-up, lunge, push-up, press cinder blocks, run up stairs, and hills to get better physically on a weekly basis. Men are getting stronger, fit, and conditioned to handle life’s challenges—most of which are not physical at all—hard work.

That flag also represents the lives of men being changed. Men are moving from being passive participants in life, to being present—present in our families, present in our places of work and worship, present in our communities. That flag represents men who now have a light in their eye and a fire in the belly that was only a faint flicker before that shovel flag was planted in Johnson City. Men who didn’t know each other before June 11th have become brothers that will stick together during life’s highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Such things have no quantifiable value.

So yes, it’s just a flag—just like F3 is just a workout.

The flag has been replaced. We are not worried or upset about the loss of a flag—we are worried about you. At what point in your life did taking an American flag attached to a shovel in a public park become acceptable? It’s just a flag—pieces of dyed fabric, sewn together and placed on a metal pole. Feel free to keep it. Just know what it represents—respect, hard work, and lives changed. That’s our desire for you. Please come back and work out with us—learn about F3 and meet the guys. Our hope is that the best of us rubs off on each other—come be part of it.

However, should you decide you also want the shovel that goes with the flag—the shovel that was handcrafted just for Johnson City by our F3 brothers in South Carolina—just know you’ll have a fight on your hands.



  1. To forgive is divine.
    Teach a man to fish…

    Spread the word and try to reach the transgressor with both messages. Use all available resources to make it happen.

    Allow him to walk (run) a mile in (F3) shoes (sneakers).

  2. Aye, awesome reflection on what F3 means to us and how it can be so simple yet so complex.

    You guys should put this backblast in your local paper either as a letter to the editor or as a local feature. Maybe also post it in the lost and found section of Craigslist. These could be great ways for more folks to hear about F3 and there may be someone out there that really needs F3 right now but doesn’t know about us.

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