Marine remembered with flag ceremony
BY DAN MORAN firstname.lastname@example.org November 11, 2012 6:30PM
A new flag honoring Marine LCPL Matthew Medlicott was erected at the Waukegan AOEC High School, where Matthew attended. His family admiring it, from left, is Brother Ian, Grandma Barbara, and Father Bart, with Marines Joe Schmitt and Porsha Brakes saluting. | Mark Ukena~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 11, 2013 1:46AM
The flagpole that was erected in his memory outside Waukegan High School’s Alternative Optional Educational Center rocked in the wind Sunday afternoon, and the flag that Matthew Medlicott was so vigilant about pointed due north.
Preparing for a quiet but significant ceremony that has become a Veterans Day tradition outside the school, assistant AOEC director Chris Dreyer remembered Medlicott’s devotion to Old Glory.
“We had an old flagpole out here and the flag was worn out,” Dreyer recalled of a day back in 2005, when Medlicott was an AOEC student. “Matt came out one day and pulled it down, and he kind of started yelling at me — ‘You can’t display a flag like that.’”
So a new flag was purchased, added Dreyer, “and Matt went outside and ran it up the pole. But we didn’t have lights for it, so he told me, ‘You’ve got to make sure it comes down every day.’”
Sunday marked the fifth Veterans Day since efforts from the Waukegan community and beyond purchased not only a new flagpole but also a lighting system and a memorial for Medlicott, who was killed in Iraq’s Al Anbar province in August 2007 while serving his second tour of duty with the U.S. Marines.
On every Nov. 11 since 2008, Matt’s father, Bart Medlicott, leads a service in which both the U.S. and Marine Corps flags are taken down, retired and replaced. On Sunday, he was joined by a dozen friends and family members in remembering his son.
“This August was five years (since his passing), and I thought about him so much more,” he said. “I was reminded in church today by a song — the chorus of which is, ‘I lay me down, my life is not my own.’ That’s what Matt did. ... I just don’t ever want to forget the sacrifice that he made, and that’s why we’re here today.”
With Matt’s brother Ian Medlicoff among those watching, Marine veteran Joe Schmitt assisted Marine Sgt. Porsha Brakes in lowering the old flags, folding them, handing them to family members and then raising the new versions. Visitors took time to view a memorial plaque at the base of the flagpole, remembering Medlicott as a “beloved son, brother, friend and Marine” and containing inscriptions that included “often tested, always faithful, brothers forever.”
Dreyer said the entire memorial features donations made from different corners of the region — for example, the plaque came from Bosma-Renke Funeral Home in Kenosha and the pedestal from Wilson Concrete in Kenosha.
Barbara Medlicott, Matt’s grandmother, told the gathering that Sunday’s service at Medlicoff’s memorial reminded her of the last conversation they had.
“Matt’s final words to me when we talked just a few days before he was deployed was, ‘If anything happens to me, Ama, I will have died for what I believe in and for my country,’” she said, “‘and I don’t ever want you to grieve for me. I wish you could promise me that.’ And I said, ‘I’ll try.’
“I couldn’t promise him that, but I was more than proud to be his grandmother,” she added, saying later that he had called on the anniversary of her husband’s passing. “His grandfather adored him. ... They joy I felt that he was joining his grandfather made both of their deaths a little easier for me.”