BRACEBRIDGE -- Darlene Cushman gathers up the singed and tattered scraps of red cloth, and clutches them to her heart.
The blackened remnant is all that is left of the once bright red and white Canadian flag that adorned a memorial on her front lawn that she made for her soldier son who died in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan.
Trooper Darryl James Caswell was killed just days before his 26th birthday on June 11, 2007.
Since then his mom has celebrated his life with a memorial, where big bright yellow ribbons and his handsome photograph adorn an old oak tree, and where a Canadian flag always flapped in the wind.
Earlier this week Cushman got up to have her morning coffee and looked out her window to see that the flag was gone. She went for a walk down her street toward a trail and found it.
"I thought I would find it and bring it back, but then I smelled the powerful stench of gasoline," she said. "There it was, burned and lying there with two burned cans of gasoline ... I began crying and shaking. I don't know what kind of a person would do this."
A tear fell down her cheek as she held the tattered scraps.
Police are still looking for the culprit and are asking witnesses to call Bracebridge OPP or Crime Stoppers. Cushman's sad story spread quickly and there has been an outpouring of tears and cards from her community and across the country.
Last night, hundreds of motorcycle riders, including soldiers and members of the public left the Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership in Barrie and made the procession to her Bracebridge home to give her a new flag for her son's memorial.
"It's been unbelievable," said Cushman as the rumble of motorcycles came down her street. "My heart is pounding. I've been crying all week, but today my tears are happy tears."
"We just wanted to do something good in the light of this despicable crime, said Harley-Davidson sales rep Steve Tanner, who with his associate Cory Wickham built a custom bike for Canadian soldier Jody Mitic who lost his feet in a bombing in Afghanistan just one month after Darryl was killed.
In a strange and sad twist, Master Cpl. Jody Mitic was with Darryl when he died.
"It's incredibly sad," said Wickham. "We want our soldiers to know that we think of them all as brothers."
(yeah i screwd up spelling the title so what?)