POMEROY, Ohio — A tattered American flag waved from the gazebo on the Pomeroy levee during the 2021 Memorial Day ceremonies, and Dan Arnold was proud to tell it’s story.
“The USS Carr was on a historic mission,” Dan Arnold said. “It was the first US Navy ship to visit Russia since WWII, and my grandson Justin was onboard.”
The USS Carr, a guided-missile frigate (FFG 52), made a diplomatic visit to Russia in 2011. Chief Petty Officer Justin Arnold served aboard the Carr and obtained it along with the ship’s battle flag after completion of the mission.
He presented them to the elder Arnold during a visit. Dan, who served in the Navy as 2nd Class Petty Officer from 1963-1965, and is a member of Drew Webster American Legion Post 39, said he was overcome with emotion at the sight of them.
As part of his remarks, Dan shared his view of American flag as a symbol of our resilience, and that these particular flags are an important piece of American and Navy history.
During the Memorial Day ceremony, Dan introduced Jerry Fredrick, who read “The Ragged Old Flag.” Written by Johnny Cash in 1974, the poem tells the story of the American flag’s journey throughout the country’s history, and celebrates the fact that it has withstood some very dark and dangerous times.
“I thought the reading of this poem would be appropriate given the condition of this flag. It is ragged from being flown, and that makes it all the more precious,” Dan said.
According to the Navy, “During their visit, Carr sailors participated in a community service project and hosted a reception on board for local government officials and special guests. Among those guests were veterans of the Polar Convoys. During World War II, the men who ran these convoys supplied much-needed aid, from the Allies, to the Soviet Union in their fight against Germany.”
Carr sailors also visited a local Russian Naval museum and participated in two wreath-laying ceremonies.
“Upon departure from Murmansk, Carr crew members manned the rails and rendered honors as they passed the final resting place of the liberty ship SS Thomas Donaldson, which was sunk in March 1945.”
Following the Memorial Day ceremony, Dan said, “I would have liked to have displayed the battle flag as well,” but that its immense size requires a large space and a lot of physical effort to do so.
“It is amazing just how big it is. Maybe we can find a place to display it in the near future,” he continued.
In the meantime, Dan added, “The Ragged Old Flag will continue to be unfurled at memorial ceremonies as a reminder of what the flag has endured, and that even though tattered, it still waves as a symbol of freedom.”
Information on the USS Carr provided by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.