Friday, 14 June 2019 18:19

Children sing to veterans at Rockingham Flag Day event

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Levi Merrell and Londyn Bright hold small U.S. flags during a Flag Day event Friday at VFW Post 4203 and Veterans Memorial Park. Levi Merrell and Londyn Bright hold small U.S. flags during a Flag Day event Friday at VFW Post 4203 and Veterans Memorial Park. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Friday was Flag Day and the children from Kidz Konstruction Daycare got to learn about the history and significance of the U.S. flag at Rockingham VFW Post 4203.

Lorie Tew, owner of the Hamlet day care, brought in the youngsters who recited the pledge of allegiance and sang two songs, including Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.”

The kids then presented each veteran with a “Thank You” card and a craft made from popsicle sticks.

The crowd then walked across to Veterans Memorial Park where Gary Weyant told them about the history of the U.S. flag and what the stars and stripes signify.

“The red on the flag stands for ... valor — valor in battle,” said the retired sergeant major, adding that during the Revolutionary War, there would be flag bearers at the front of the lines who would be shot, but someone else would pick up the flag and keep marching “because that flag meant everything.”

White, he continued, stands for purity and innocence.

“Some people don’t respect the flag as much as some people, but if I go to a ball game or some place where they play the national anthem, I still get goose bumps on my arm.”

Eddie Dean and Johnny Patrick talked to them about the battlefield cross and Dean told them the history behind the Iwo Jima memorial.

The park, which is owned by the VFW, has memorials for every war involving U.S. troops and the post recently purchased nearby land to expand the park in the future, Dean said.

Just back from participating in D-Day anniversary events in Normandy, retired Lt. Col. Jon Ring, Army JROTC instructor at Richmond Senior High School, told them about what the flag means to him, personally.

Ring was born on Flag Day and shares his birthday with the U.S. Army, the branch of the military in which he served.

He told the kids that if they were to go to coastal France, they would “see this flag all over the place,” adding that the French still appreciate the flag “and all that it stands for.”

“And when you ask anybody there what that flag stands for, usually they’ll say one word: liberty,” Ring said. “It’s a really powerful word, liberty. It means you get to do what you want to do, it means you’re in charge of your own self. It means your country is your country.”

He said the flag also stands for home.

“Wherever I’ve gone around the world, that flag has gone with me,” he said. “When I’ve had to send home folks that didn’t make it, that flag has been on top of them. It’s home.

“If you can respect anything in the world, you have to respect that flag and what it stands for,” Ring added. “It’s not just a piece of cloth. It is our home. It’s us — all of us.”

After eating a lunch of hot dogs and chips, the kids sang "Happy Birthday" to Ring.