Jackson doctor has flag raised over USS Arizona Memorial

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When Dr. Charles Pewitt went with his family in May to Hawaii, he never expected to receive what he calls a once in a lifetime experience.

"Talk about a surprise," Pewitt said. "Getting a flag raised and lowered at the USS Arizona Memorial hadn't even crossed my mind when we went to Pearl Harbor."

Pewitt, a physician who practices at Jackson Medical Center, had taken his family on vacation. On the day the Pewitts visited Pearl Harbor, they visited a theater a museum and a gift shop.

"The gift shop sold folded American flags, and they had some nice ones," Pewitt said. "I decided I had to have one."

It was after he bought the flag that Pewitt and his family also purchased tickets to visit the memorial, located a little off shore. While waiting in line for their boat trip, Pewitt noticed a cruise missile on display.

"It wanted to see it up close, but I didn't think ducking under ropes to get to it would be the smart thing to do," he said. "The USS Arizona Memorial is under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, and a park ranger wasn't far away."

Pewitt struck up a conversation with the park ranger, and it wasn't long before the folded American flag caught the attention of the ranger.

"I was talking to the ranger about the cruise missile," Pewitt said, "and then out-of-the-blue he asked me if I would like to have my flag raised and lowered at the memorial. I was honored."

Once Pewitt and his family arrived at the memorial, a park ranger led him to a flagpole for the raising and lowering of his flag.

"The ranger and myself did it," Pewitt said. "When it was over, my three kids remarked that it was a humbling experience to have watched the scene."

Pewitt considers the flag a treasure, and he took extra precautions for its safety on the flight home.

"On the way back, it never left my sight," he said. "I didn't put it in my luggage or anything. I had it under my arm the whole time."

However, Pewitt believes that the flag doesn't really belong to him.

"It's not Dr. Pewitt's flag," he said. "This is something to share with the community. I'm going to have the flag encased in a frame and mounted in the waiting room of my office with the flag's certificate from the National Park Service next to it. Anyone who wants to come and see it when it's ready is welcome to do so."

Pewitt plans to have the flag on his waiting-room wall sometime during the holiday season.

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent address:

2387 W. Jackson Blvd., Jackson, Mo.

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