Ironton Elks host annual Flag Day ceremonies

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 16, 2003

When Charles Meadows joined the U.S. Marines in 1967, he swore to uphold the laws of the United States.

To him, the United States flag represents what the Ironton resident and Vietnam veteran swore to protect.

Members of the Ironton Elks Lodge 177 conducted its 86th annual Flag Day service Saturday evening on the grounds of Sherman Thompson Towers. After a color presentation by members of VFW Post 8850, local singer Chris Laber sang the National Anthem.

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Afterward, a younger performer took the stage.

As guest speaker for the evening, Meadows had the choice of opening his speech any way he wanted, he said. He brought his four-year-old neighbor Caylyn Case to the front of the stage to sing "God Bless the U.S.A."

"She's happy to please Charlie in any way," her mother, Deanna Case, said. "She knew if she did anything about America, he would be proud of her."

Meadows is a 1967 graduate of Rock Hill High School who joined the Marines shortly after graduation. He was wounded three times in Vietnam, and the final time cost him his leg. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, amongst other honors.

The adjustment period for him after losing his leg was hard because before this, he participated in sports, hunting and gardening, he said. Meadows is now the senior vice commander of the Lawrence County Order of the Purple Heart 765.

"The war wasn't popular, but I did my job," he said during his speech. "A lot of my high school friends are in the cemeteries, now. I'm no hero -- they're the heroes."

Meadows said he has attempted to visit the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., but cannot do it because of the close friends, some of them sports teammates, that died in Vietnam.

During the rest of his speech, Meadows discussed how the U.S. flag has been involved in every battle of every war in American history -- and how it is abused in battle and by people whom the U.S. tries to set free. Nevertheless, the flag still stands proud, he said.

"I hope people left here with a warm feeling toward the U.S. flag and America and their patriotic duty to God and their country," Scott Crabtree, exalted ruler of the Elks, said. "Some people have to pay the ultimate sacrifice."