New flag honors lives lost

Published 10:20 am Tuesday, March 22, 2016

By J. E. Barker
University Relations

MURFREESBORO – Bob and Ann Lee of Murfreesboro, long-time supporters of Chowan University, have donated a new flagpole to the campus in memory of their late son Robert, a Chowan graduate from the Class of 2005.

A short dedication ceremony was held on March 2 with friends, family and war veterans gathered as the billowing flag was unfurled to majestically oversee the Rose Family Tennis Complex.

“I want to thank Bob and Ann Lee for seeing the need and adding the finishing touch to our new tennis facility,” remarked Chowan President Chris White at the ceremony. “The flag means many things to many people. To me, it conjures forth memories of my father who was a veteran of the army in World War II in Africa, Italy, France and Germany; my father-in-law who was a Navy man in the South Pacific; and our son who was a Navy officer and veteran of Desert Storm, and we have people here today who have lost loved ones in conflicts of war.”

In attendance at the dedication was one special veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Joseph Dickerson of Murfreesboro, who was asked to make remarks. Dickerson began with a short history of how the current flag came to be, and ended with a heartfelt testimony that memorialized the American symbol as he pulled a small, well-worn flag from his side pocket.

“When I left New York in 1942, after I walked out of the barracks, I saw this little flag. I picked that flag up and put it in my pocket, and this flag went with me to Europe – to England, Belgium, France and Germany – all during the war. It went through D-Day with me,” the World War II veteran recalled. “And everywhere I go I have kept this little flag close to me. This little flag means a lot to me. This little flag has traveled miles and miles and miles. This little flag represents a lot of guys that lost their lives in 1944 on June 6th. They gave their lives for this flag. When my time comes and the good Lord calls me, I want this flag put in my casket ‘cause I want to take it up there and show it to Him and tell Him what it means to us.”

Lee Canipe, Pastor of Murfreesboro Baptist Church where Bob and Ann Lee worship, was on hand for a prayer of dedication.

“It is with great gratitude and humility that we dedicate this gift from our friends Bob and Ann as a visible reminder that with freedom comes responsibility,” Canipe offered. “May all who pass by this flagpole be inspired to become more noble, more brave and more generous in their commitment to E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many One.”

Marked by a granite stone placard forever interned in the brick base of the flagpole, a dedicatory honor in the name of the Lee’s son, Robert E. Lee III from Chowan’s Class of 2005, will eternally bless the occasion. Having lost their son to an untimely traffic accident in Florida in 2008, the Lees were grateful for the chance to honor his memory at his alma mater.

“A small school was the right fit for him, and he really adjusted well here. He got a lot of close and special attention from the teachers, and they had a lot of genuine interest in him,” Bob Lee remarked, fondly remembering his son who was ‘an excellent kid, the outdoorsy type’ that graduated with a degree in biology. “When this opportunity came along to do something, a small something, it gave us an occasion to honor the college and to honor him. We are very glad to have this opportunity.”

The flag bearing his honor can now be seen flying high atop the hill as you enter the historic Chowan University campus from south Union Street, a lasting testament of civic pride and of parent’s love.