Eshelman’s love of country on display on the walls of his office

Roanoke area resident Pete Eshelman has a collection of flags, each of which flew during a major time of conflict in history. Eshelman comes from a long line of men who served in the military. Photo by Andre B. Laird.

One look at the walls of Pete Eshelman's office and it is clear that patriotism runs through his veins.

Eshelman, owner of Joseph Decuis in Roanoke, has a collection of four large flags, each of which flew during a major time of conflict.

"My family history includes people in military all the way back to the Revolutionary War," Eshelman says. "And that's on both sides of my family."

He adds that the flags are displayed not for show, but as a constant reminder of the sacrifice others have paid for people like himself.

"I believe in the American dream," says Eshelman. "We are able to pursue those dreams because of people who risked their lives to protect our way of life. These flags remind me of how lucky we are to live in this country."

His first flag was one that flew on an LST (Landing Ship Tank) during the invasion of Okinawa, Japan, during the World War II.

"My grandfather was the owner of the second flag, which flew aboard the USS Arizona during peacetime," Eshelman adds. "The Arizona was bombed and sank during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It's still there today."

His third flag was a gift from a close family friend, who spent time teaching his mother and sister about history.

"The flag was hung in their home and after he passed, it was given to me," Eshelman states.

His latest flag was received from a Marine company serving in Iraq.
"During Operation Adopt-A-Marine, we adopted Apache Company and frequently sent them care packages," Eshelman says. "After they returned, we were presented with the flag, which flew over their camp in Iraq."

Huntington resident Robby Holzinger served in the company, Second Marine Division 1st Expediatory Force.

"We also sent them our wagyu beef jerky," says Eshelman. "I remember a Marine telling me that they were trapped in a long fire fight and all he had to eat was our beef jerky. We always had requests for that."

He adds that he appreciates the story each flag has to tell.

"A lot of people struggled to get us to where we are today," he states. "I believe that it's our duty to carry on the values they fought for and to teach the next generation."

Eshelman adds that regardless of the world's opinion of America, it is still the best place to live.

"I've traveled the world and I'm thankful every time I come back," he says. "As bad as times are, we are fortunate. Freedom is not free. It's the most sophisticated form of society. There are many who fought for our way of life. Some died; some were maimed and some survived. They should be honored for their service."

And the town of Roanoke will do just that on July 3, with its "Freedom on Main" event, which will honor veterans and featured patriotic music and entertainment.

"These men and women don't see themselves as heroes," Eshelman states. "But because of what they did, the flag means something, especially today."