PDT Staff Writer
Ashland, Ky., Elks Lodge #350 will hold its annual Flag Day Ritual, on Sunday, June 10, at 2 p.m. at the lodge, 900 Carter Ave. in Ashland.
Larry Gates, whose grandfather, Paris Edington, preceded him in being involved in the Flag Day event in the 1930s and ’40s, said the local event began in 1908.
“This year we’ve got Ernie West, Medal of Honor winner,” Gates said. “At the beginning he’s going to carry the flag. The Boy Scouts and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) will be behind him, followed by the officers. We call it the grand march.”
Gates said the Star Spangled Banner will be played as the entourage enters the building.
“After that we have a little ritual,” Gates said. “Then (State) Senator Walter Blevins of Kentucky will read the history of the flag. There’s eight flags, dating back to 1774. Senator Blevins will read the history of each as it is brought in.”
Gates said there will be a floral Liberty Bell, State Rep. Kevin Sinnette will deliver the response, followed by a speech by the Mayor of Ashland, Tom Kelley.
Monica Hodges will perform our National Anthem, “God Bless America,” and “Amazing Grace,” while Linda McKinley and Greg Collinsworth will perform other patriotic music.
“Then we will present medals to Ernie West,” Gates said. “They are Elks medals, and they are to honor him (West). They are a thank you for his service.”
Born on September 2, 1931, in Russell, Ky., West was drafted from Wurtland in 1950. By October 12, 1952, he was serving in Korea as a private first class with Company L, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. After his unit was ambushed near Sataeri on that day, he ran through heavy fire to rescue his wounded commander. As he was pulling the man to safety, three hostile soldiers attacked. West shielded the commander with his body and killed the attackers with his rifle, suffering a wound that resulted in the loss of his eye in the process. Despite this injury, he remained on the field and assisted in the evacuation of other wounded men, at one point killing three more hostile soldiers. For these actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor on Jan. 29, 1954. West lives in Wurtland, Ky.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.