Lysa Cole awarded college grant for saving USA flag

Lysa Cole, the 20-year-old Spokane woman who saved a burning American flag during a protest on June 7, was granted a scholarship by Spokane's 'Military Officers Association of America' Chapter on Monday.

"These are the type of leaders that we want in the future. One's that will step forward and look out for everyone," David Melges, the president of Spokane's MOAA Chapter, said. "She stood up for everybody that's ever fought for that flag."

While learning more about Cole and her story, Melges found out Cole was having trouble paying for school.

"That's not right. You should be able to continue your education," Melges said.

Dozens of veterans from Spokane to Coeur d'Alene (including some not in MOAA) decided to create a college grant worth $2,685 to help fund her education.

MOAA, which states it's the country's largest and most influential association of military officers, is a nonprofit organization that advocates for "compensation and benefit matters for all members of the military community."

Although she has no plans to work or serve in the military, Cole's family has an extensive military history.

"My dad was in the Army. My brother is in. My grandfather's were in," Cole said. "Saying 'Black Lives Matter' isn't saying 'Oh, I hate America' and saying 'Oh, I stand for the flag, I support our troops' is not saying, 'Oh, I hate all Black people'... "When you're saying 'Black Lives Matter,' it's also being patriotic because America was made to be an equal opportunity place for everybody. Even though it wasn't founded on that, it has the potential to be that."

Cole was handed an envelope with two letters by Melges on Monday: one addressed to her by the veterans, and another letter addressed to SCC's (Community Colleges of Spokane) financial aide department to notify them of the grant. Her goal is to study psychology and law, so she can be a counselor to help victims of human trafficking.

"I plan on going to SCC for the next year, then transferring to Eastern (Washington University) online and finishing out the rest of my degree there. Then after that, hopefully get my Master's at a school that'll accept me," Cole said.

Cole is also a member of First Amendment Free, a local organization that previously held protests in Spokane. The group was created a few months ago in June, "when the youth of Spokane decided to organize and make an impact. Our First Amendment rights challenges the status quo, holding our leaders accountable and fighting for solutions that will transform society," according to the group's Facebook page.

"I have friends and I know other people who do things more courageous than what I did... Take time out of your day to see people doing normal things that stand out to you and thank them for it," she said.