(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by MC2 Tiarra Fulgham
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Detachment Hawaii
A native of Skowhegan, Maine and retired schoolteacher, Larry Ross, was given an opportunity to travel to each state across the nation. His mission was to make sure the American flag he carried with him would fly in each state.
On Oct. 6, the flag made its last stop—this one in Hawaii, the 50th state, where it was flown over the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. The memorial is the final resting place for Sailors and Marines who lost their lives during the 1941 Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and their shipmates who requested to be interred in the ship to join their fallen brothers-in-arms.
“I am bringing a flag to every state in the union on behalf of the USS America and the sponsor of the ship Mrs. Lynne Pace,” said Ross.
“I presented to her an idea of taking a flag to every state of the union speaking to as many young people as I possibly can across the country.”
Chief Machinist’s Mate Michael Sears Jr. and Electronics Technician 3rd Class Christian Casiple, both based in Hawaii, assisted Ross in raising the flag over the USS Arizona Memorial.
“It was an honor to be here and assist in raising the flag over the Arizona,” said Casiple. “To hear that [Ross] has been to every state with this flag, telling the stories of the fallen, is really amazing.”
One may wonder how he managed to visit every state across America. It was a long but fulfilling journey, according to Ross.
During his travels, Ross met and talked with students and young people of all ages who signed a “pledge to myself.” The pledge says, “I pledge to protect my life and the lives of others, to use my liberty for good, and to help others do the same and to pursue my happiness,” which references the famous quote in the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson.
“Along the way, we have been meeting with kids and talking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and using examples of Marines and Sailors that my class had researched,” said Ross.
Ross explained his mission in telling stories and educating the new generations about the past and how it affects our present and our future.
“I want to talk about the attributes, the values and the traits that [fallen heroes] demonstrated are truly examples of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he added.
“Those traits serve you well whether you are in the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps; a teacher in an elementary school or on a soccer team. It doesn’t matter, they serve you well,” Ross said.
Ross explained that the true gift of this journey is to have the young people internalize life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and make it a part of their lives as he stressed the importance of the connection between the young people and the Sailors and Marines aboard the ships.
“When I get back to California, the flag will be presented to Mrs. Pace,” he shared. “It will be framed, and it will go to the USS America where it will stay on permanent display. It’s really her [Pace’s] gift to the ship, as I explained to the kids.”
On Oct. 11, the Navy’s newest amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) is slated to be commissioned during San Francisco Fleet Week.