WHEELING - This year's Flag Day celebration at Wheeling's Elks Lodge No. 28 held special meaning for the family of the late Army Capt. David VanCamp as they joined friends, relatives and their son's brothers in arms to receive a Medal of Valor for the fallen soldier.
"As long as there are veterans, they shall never be forgotten," Elks Northern District Deputy Pat Duffy said Friday. "Tonight we have a very special veteran to honor."
VanCamp died in action on June 29, 2011, during a rocket attack in Badrah, Iraq. He was 29 years old and only a few weeks away from returning home.
Photo by Daniel Dorsch
From left, Linda and Donald VanCamp, Gail VanVranken, state Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, and American Legion Post 1 Commander Joe Fatigati take part in the final song of the Elks Medal of Valor ceremony for Army Capt. David VanCamp on Friday.
"VanCamp gave up all of his tomorrows that we may have our todays," Duffy said. "He loved his country, he loved his God and he loved his family."
John Nanny, former Marine Corps League commandant, spoke during Friday's ceremony.
"Whenever friends gather with brothers in arms to (pay) tribute to a fallen brother, all is right with the world," Nanny said. "He will always be with us."
Nanny said Friday's presentation for VanCamp was especially emotional for him because he and the captain's father, Donald VanCamp, grew up together as high school classmates. He also said he and Donald VanCamp shared a lot of the experiences of parenthood.
"As parents, we watch children grow up, have dreams and go out to fulfill them," Nanny said as his voice cracked. "He died doing what he loved. Keep this remembrance in your hearts and souls and you guarantee that this death was not in vain."
To conclude, Nanny reminded those gathered of the price of freedom.
"We will always be here as long as our young men and women are sent into harm's way," Nanny said. "Don't ever lose sight of that fact."
Duffy presented the Elks Medal of Valor plaque to David VanCamp's parents, Donald and Linda, along with a bouquet of red roses.
"Only a parent knows what feeling comes at a time like this," Duffy said.
The Pitts Sisters, Rose and Connie, sang a selection of patriotic songs throughout the ceremony.
Army Sgt. Daniel Weitz provided a military escort for the VanCamps as they entered the hall while local students presented the flag. Among those gathered were state Sen. Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio, Wheeling Councilwoman Gloria Delbrugge, Boatsie's Boxes coordinator Gail VanVanken and Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball.