A colorblind firefighter saw the American flag in all its red-white-and-blue glory for the first time in 21 years after his friend and colleague surprised him with a pair of special glasses that allowed him to see color.
Firefighter Spencer Caradine, 21, of Dallas, Georgia, couldn’t help but burst into tears when his colleagues at the Douglas County Fire Department surprised him with an enormous American flag draped over their fire engine on the Fourth of July.
“I was overwhelmed,” Caradine told InsideEdition.com. “I didn’t know what to think or say. It was like entering into a whole new world. I didn’t know how to explain any of it.”
His good friend and roommate, firefighter Jordan Gardner, said he organized the surprise because he knew Caradine wanted the first thing he saw in color to be the American flag.
“It’s been almost three weeks, and every time I look over, he’s just staring off at something,” Gardner joked. “I can’t help but smile thinking about how he can finally see the way the rest of us have.”
They explained that they were on a hike together last December when Gardner was stopping to point out certain things in the scenery and Caradine realized he wasn’t seeing the world around them in quite the same way.
“When we were on the hike I was trying to point stuff out. I would stop at all these places and look out at everything,” Gardner said. “I love doing stuff like that, I love [looking at] the [water]falls.”
Caradine added, “I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about at all.”
That’s when they came to the conclusion together that Caradine was colorblind, and at that moment, Gardner decided he would eventually surprise him with a pair of EnChroma glasses.
Gardner then spent the next several months trying to figure out what kind of colorblind his roommate is, by asking him to do various colorblind tests under the guise of helping him learn more about his condition.
By the time Gardner placed the order, many of their colleagues at the fire department knew about the surprise and wanted to pitch in.
“I didn’t know how to explain why we had a 6-foot-by-10-foot American flag hanging off the side of the engine,” he said. “I was like, ‘This is your first Fourth of July at the station. We’re having a big breakfast, that’s just what we do at the firehouse.”
After breakfast, Caradine was given the glasses and led out to the courtyard to see the flag.
“Neither of us are emotional people at all and we both cried,” Gardner said.
Ever since then, Caradine has rarely taken off his new glasses.
“We got him five coloring books, couple hundreds of pencil crayons. We color on shift just so he can learn his colors,” Gardner said. “It’s like I’m a proud dad; our fridge at the house is covered in all these coloring papers.”
The pair has since watched fireworks, gone to the aquarium and hiked the route again that led them to their original discovery.
The next thing on Caradine’s to-see list: “I want to see the sunset on a beach.”
By JOHANNA LI / Insideedition