For the last few weeks, the big American flag at the intersection of U.S. Highway 60 and Business 71, has been down. But on Sunday, the flag returned during a rededication ceremony, with veterans and the public in the audience
flag made by johnin
For the last few weeks, the big American flag at the intersection of U.S. Highway 60 and Business 71, has been down. But on Sunday, the flag returned during a rededication ceremony, with veterans and the public in the audience.
"These flags fly 120 feet in the air, they take a lot of beatings," said Kevin Wilson, a member of the Neosho Exchange Club. "The big one that we put up today, which was donated by Sen. Ron Richard, is 30 x 60 and it cost $1,200 for one flag. The smaller flag when we have (flying in) inclement weather is 20x30 and it cost $700. We will go through typically two big ones and maybe three little ones in a year."
The flag was originally dedicated on July 4, 2002. The Neosho Exchange Club handles the flag. Along with the rededication ceremony, the spectators also noticed some other improvements. The cable was repaired and repainted. Landscaping was also done. The club also took off all of the plaques of people who support the flag and redid them as well. They painted the plaque wall.
Neosho Exchange Club member Rev. Bill Doubek spoke about the flag.
"I grew up in a time when the flag meant a lot," he said. "My dad was in the Army Air Corp.
... we never missed an opportunity to be out at the cemeteries on Memorial Day, to be at flag services for flag day for Veterans Day. He was my dad and I went with him. He was an American Legion member.
When Doubek was 8 years old, the Vietnam War began.
"That was when the first American died over there," he said. "I never ever thought that I would grow up to go myself."
When he was in high school, he told the group something that he remembered.
"I can remember in high school every Monday morning the principal would read the names of the graduates that were killed the week before," he said. "You had the Pledge of Allegiance, prayer - because I went to a Christian school, and then we had the reading of the names. I think that it was then when the flag started meaning something to me, prior to that it was something that I did with my dad. Then all of a sudden, these guys were coming home, the closer they got to me in age, the more that I realized that I knew who they were talking about, the more that flag meant to me. In 1969, I flunked out of college, totally embarrassed about that, a year later I am in Southeast Asia.
Doubek survived his first year in Vietnam, came back and found out that things weren't so good for veterans in the U.S.
"Things were so good for Old Glory either," he said. "They were burning them (flags) by that time and they weren't respecting those for those of us who had gone over there to serve under that flag. I reenlisted because there was nothing for me at home and I volunteered to go back, it was easier for me to be in Vietnam than it was to be here in America. the flag meant something to us over there and something to all of the men in the Legion caps and those who served in uniform."
On his last combat mission, 23 men were killed, Doubek and another soldier survived.
"Now, it was real personal, because I was a platoon sergeant for three of them," he said. "These were my guys and what did we do, we sent them home covered in that flag. About two years ago, I was contacted by a young lady who was born three years after that incident, her uncle was one of those guys who were killed and she wanted to know about him. what could I share, the only thing that I could talk about was that old flag. When I look at that flag, I look for everything that america stands for, but I look and see even more the faces of those who are buried under it - including my dad. and I know someday, it is going to be covering my casket too. I pray that my sons will remember."
In conclusion, Doubek said the flag means something.
"The flag, it has always been the flag," he said. "The things that we fought for, the things that we sent guys home under, that is what the flag means to me."
The Boy Scout Troop 34 of Neosho, came forward and put the flag on the flagpole. The flag is flying again high above Neosho.
"People feel like it is their flag, that is what we like," said Wilson in an earlier interview with the Daily News.