Clifton Forge, Va. (VR) – The Chesapeake & Ohio Historical Society is showing its patriotism ahead of the July 4th holiday thanks to a project coordinated by Alleghany County resident and veteran William B. Atherholt. At the C&O Railway Heritage Center museum, a new United States and National League of Families POW/MIA flag has been installed. The flags were donated by Mr. Atherholt, a United States Navy veteran, and installed with assistance from the Clifton Forge Police Department and Public Works Department. In addition, the C&O Railway Heritage Center’s flagpole received a fresh coat of silver paint to complete this upgrade. For the non-profit organization that not only preserves, studies, and publishes the transportation history of the C&O Railway, but also helps host the annual Clifton Forge Main Street “Stars & Stripes” fireworks display, the replacement of the museum’s American flag, addition of a new POW/MIA flag, and re-painting of the museum’s prominent flagpole is fitting as the town prepares for the yearly two- day festival.
With equipment and support provided by the Town of Clifton Forge’s Public Works Department, workers were also able to paint the flagpole silver and re-grease the roller on the flagpole line.
“It was a privilege for me to work together with the C&O Historical Society, the Clifton Forge Public Works department, and the Clifton Forge Police Department to bring this flagpole renovation to life. The addition of a new proper-sized American flag and the POW/MIA flag was especially important in my opinion,” said Bill Atherholt.
Often referred to as the POW/MIA flag, the addition of this symbol of concern for American soldiers still prisoner, missing, and unaccounted for in theatres of war was especially important to C&O Historical Society President Mark Totten. “My father, a U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Vietnam, worked for 39 years at E.I. DuPont’s chemical works in Belle, West Virginia. As was the case through the decades with the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway’s workforce, many employees at DuPont’s Belle Works were veterans of the United States’ armed forces. Dad advocated that a POW/MIA flag be flown with the plant’s American flag, and for many years before he retired, this symbol of our country’s concern and commitment to the fates of Americans missing and unaccounted for flew at the entrance to this expansive chemical facility.”
C&O Historical Society Vice President Clifford Clements, himself a United States Army veteran and former C&O Railway employee, expressed his satisfaction about the project and its timing with the upcoming holiday, “The July 4th holiday has always held a special meaning for me as a time to celebrate the birth of our nation. While the parades, festivals, and fireworks all contribute to the celebration, to me it has always been seeing the American flag displayed everywhere and the memory of all the citizen soldier patriots who have kept this country free over the past 246 years. To help show our patriotismand pride in this county, I am very pleased that the C&O Historical Society, staff within the Town of Clifton Forge Police Department and Public Works Department, and Bill Atherholt collaborated to upgrade the Heritage Center flagpole with new paint, new American flag, and the POW/MIA flag. I thank all of them for their support and participation in this project to help celebrate this special country of ours.”
Speaking further about this collaboration within the community, C&OHS President Totten also thanked local town departments for their support, “We are incredibly grateful for the help received from Chief of Police Chad Wickline from the Clifton Forge Police Department and Director Chris Keyser at the Town of Clifton Forge’s Public Works Department. The C&O Historical Society would especially like to thank Mr. Bill Atherholt, who originally approached me with this offer that ended up having great meaning for us both.”
The Clifton Forge Police Department was instrumental not only in installing the new flags for the C&O Historical Society, but making sure proper flag protocol was met when the hook and the new line was added to the existing flagpole. For example, in the case of the C&O Railway Heritage Center’s single flagpole, the POW/MIA flag should fly directly below, and be no larger than, the United States flag.
C&OHS President Mark Totten concludes, “This was such a positive collaboration within the community between multiple organizations and town departments. We are honored to be part of a town where citizens can work together so well for the common good.”
The C&O Railway Heritage Center museum is open six days per week, Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 AM – 4 PM at 705 Main Street, Clifton Forge, VA and may be contacted by telephone at 540-862-8653 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Updates and additional information can be found on Facebook under @candoheritage.