SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- D.M. and Dee Dee Xander have been married more than 40 years. They have a love for each other and a love of their country.
The Xanders struggled to walk because D.M. has Parkinson's Disease and Dee suffers from Fibromyalgia. But as long as the two can walk, they carry something special around with them, something that gives them strength.
"The stars are a thank you," said Dee.
The stars are cut from old tattered and faded United States flags and are given to the men and women who defended them. The Xanders want to make sure the stars reach those hands. Whenever they see a veteran or member of the military, they hand them a star and thank them for their service.
KOLR10/KOZL followed the Xanders through Battlefield Mall as they handed out the stars. Walt Sanders is a Vietnam Veteran who served in the Navy four years and the Air Force for 23. "It's just kind of a reminder of what you did. What we did."
The Xanders are part of a national organization called "Stars for our Troops." Members carry honor the members of the military.
"This saves the flags from being burned and it gives something back to the soldiers," said Dee.
First Sergeant Derek Afalava trains at Fort Leonard Wood. He received a flag as well and said it meant a lot.
"It does, it does you run into quite a few people who don't appreciate the military so its very heartwarming to have someone like that come up.
D.M said years ago he wanted to serve in the military but couldn't.
"I didn't like it but there was nothing I could do. It was up to the Congress but at least now I can do something for the troops now."
The stars come in a packet with a saying on the back that reads, "I am part of the American Flag. I have flown over a home in the USA. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder you are not forgotten."
"I think it is very special...if you keep this up you are going to have me in tears," said Sanders as he walked away with his star.
Copyright 2017 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.