Marine raising money to erect big flag pole to honor veterans

2014-04-15 | The Register-Herald

April 15--One West Virginian plans to show his allegiance to God and country as he raises money to erect an 80-foot flag pole along I-77 near Flat Top.

Dayton Meadows, a Marine who served from 1963 to 1981, said he wants the 20-by-30 flag to wave in the constant breeze and be illuminated by three lights so it will be visible from every angle.

"When you cross that mountain, you'll see Old Glory shining," Meadows said. "I think that 20-by-30 will stand out 24-7."

Billboards already on the property will say "In God We Trust" and "Gold Star Families."

His project has gotten the blessing of Woody Williams, the World War II Marine whose actions "above and beyond the call of duty" at Iwo Jima earned a Medal of Honor. Still active at 90, Williams is now in demand as a speaker and works on behalf of Gold Star Families -- those who have lost loved ones in military conflicts.

"I fully support this great effort to effectively remind all Americans who see its message, that our freedom has come at great sacrifice and it is up to each of us to fulfill our obligation to God, to each other and country," Williams wrote.

Meadows said Williams is the man out front of the project, and deserves the honors he has received since returning home from the Pacific Theater more than 65 years ago.

"He's a phenomenal individual," Meadows said. "He's so inspiring. What he did at Iwo Jima was inspiring. What he's done since (is even more so). Woody Williams didn't live history, he made it."

Meadows said Williams will have 10 years to promote his cause at the site, and will be honored by a third billboard that says "Hershel 'Woody' Williams Medal of Honor Christian Patriot Marine."

The flag pole, flag and billboards are part of the first phase of a project designed to honor all veterans. Meadows said he is raising $50,000 for this phase. People who donate $25 will receive a "challenge coin," while those who donate $50 will receive the coin and a certificate.

Meadows said challenge coins are used by military units and each has a distinct design. Military personnel collect the coins, he said.

Phase II of the project is a picnic pavilion where veterans can gather any time they like without charge, Meadows said. Meadows operates the Mountain Memories Retreat for Veterans in Skelton.

He said West Virginia has always had more soldiers per capita serve in every conflict of the United States, and has had more per capita die than any other state.

And it's important for him to honor that sacrifice. "I just want it to be of the people," he said.

-- E-mail: ppritt@register-herald.com