The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 15, 2014

Flying high: Patriot Memorial Flag dedicated: PHOTOS

Flag is part of ongoing Marion County Korean War Memorial project

PLEASANT VALLEY — It took almost 30 people to lift the Patriot Memorial Flag on Saturday, as community members prepared to raise the 30-foot by 50-foot flag on its flagpole for dedication at the future site of the Korean War Memorial on the Gateway Connector.

Among the helpers were six young Boy and Girl Scouts members, members of the National Guard, firefighters and police officers.

Abby Latocha sang the national anthem as the flag was raised.

“And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Latocha sang.

The flag is the largest American flag that can fly on a flagpole of its height and makes up part of the Marion County Korean War Memorial, an ongoing project. The pole is 38 meters high, or 124 feet 8 inches, representing the 38th parallel that separates North and South Korea.

The Flag Day ceremony was attended by community members, service members, veterans and area politicians.

Fairmont Mayor Ron Straight oversaw the ceremony as master of ceremonies.

“To Americans, our flag is a sacred heirloom of our country. It symbolizes our birthright, our heritage of liberty, which was won with blood and sorrow,” Straight said. “Today we honor the flag, which represents the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

The flag was raised up to the sky around noon. Following speeches, a performance of “God Bless America” sung by Latocha, and a final prayer and invocation, the Harrison County Honor Guard fired the 21-gun salute. One of the shells from that salute was presented to the designer of the memorial, Rick Hardman.

The flagpole’s height had to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and is painted black.

“That way, the flagpole will disappear at night and it will look like the flag is flying by itself,” Hardman said.

When completed, the memorial will feature two additional flagpoles that will be 27 feet high, representing the 27 soldiers from Marion County who were killed in Korea.

The American flagpole was originally going to sit 38 feet high; however, once Hardman saw the site for the memorial, he increased it to 38 meters.

“I was overwhelmed by the view,” Hardman said. Because the spot is already around 40 feet above the highway, Hardman said the flag will fly around 170 feet above Interstate 79.

“I feel that along I-79, it’s going to be the most noticed because of where it sits,” Hardman said.

Hardman said there will also be three floodlights installed at the base of the flagpole, with filters to make the lights shine red, white and blue on special holidays.

The Marion County Korean War Memorial has been an ongoing project for several years. To continue work on the project, Hardman said they need additional funds.

“I was hoping that this flag and this pole would generate more interest, so now we can focus on finishing the memorial itself,” Hardman said.

Speaking about the memorial, Marion County Commissioner Butch Tennant praised the work and fundraising that had been done so far.

“Happy halfway done,” Tennant said. “We need to get this done.”

Hardman said the main contributors so far have included West Virginia Woodmen of the World, both the Rotary Clubs in Fairmont, the Chesapeake Energy Corp. and the Marion County Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation.

Donations are tax deductible and can be sent to Your Community Foundation at P.O. Box 409, Morgantown, WV 26507. To honor an individual, donations are accepted for $1,000 (gold level), $500 (silver level) and $100 (bronze level).

While the memorial itself is not yet complete, Hardman was happy to get the flag flying for Flag Day.

“The flag in itself is very meaningful,” Hardman said. “And the weather was perfect.”

Straight agreed.

“It makes you very humbled to look up and see this flag flying. It’s a beautiful sight,” Straight said.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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