For more than 15 years, an oversized American flag, known locally as "the big flag" has waved proudly over Neosho on Highway 60. A project of The Neosho Exchange Club, the flag has become a landmark and plans are now under way to create a Neosho Patriots Memorial on the site.

For more than 15 years, an oversized American flag, known locally as "the big flag" has waved proudly over Neosho on Highway 60. A project of The Neosho Exchange Club, the flag has become a landmark and plans are now under way to create a Neosho Patriots Memorial on the site.

On Friday morning, a large crowd gathered at the foot of the flagpole. Members of Neosho Boy Scout Troop #34 raised the flag while Exchange Club member Rick Holden, Neosho, sang The Star Spangled Banner accapella.

The flag, which measures 30 by 60 feet, was raised to the top of the pole and then lowered to half-mast to mourn the lives lost in the recent Ride the Ducks tragedy in Branson.

Neosho Exchange Club president, Danny Snow, welcomed those who attended.

"Thank you for coming out, especially our first responders and law enforcement officers," said Snow. "I am proud to be part of the group (Neosho Exchange Club) that takes care of the flag. I think of freedom and freedom's not free. Today, we're kicking off an event to bring a memorial to all those who have served."

The proposed memorial will cost approximately $60,000, but $10,000 in donations have already been received. The plan is to install a sidewalk and concrete platform around the present flagpole and add flags for each branch of the United States Armed Forces as well as a flag to remember the nation's Prisoners of War and those missing in action. The memorial will also recognize first responders and law enforcement as well with a special wall. Two statues are also planned as part of the memorial, one to honor fallen soldiers and another to remember canine officers.

Those who donate to the memorial in any amount will have their name recognized on the memorial.

Dave Padgett, Neosho Exchange Club, said, "It's for everyone in Neosho and Newton County. We think it will be something to be proud of."

Padgett also said there will be benches provided so members of the public can spend time in reflection.

"To make all this possible, it does take money," Padgett explained. "We already have almost $10,000 from two wonderful donors. We had people lining up to donate even before we started. If you can give a dollar, it means as much as those who give more. Anyone can participate No donation is too small and we want it to be for everyone. You'll see us around town. It takes people who care about their community to make this possible."

Pledge cards were available at the event. Posters are up throughout Neosho with a depiction of how the complete Neosho Patriot Memorial will appear.

"A major rededication is planned for late fall, after it's all completed," Padgett said. "Let's all give as Neoshoans."

Padgett noted that the Neosho Exchange Club is proud to take care of the flag.

Donations can be mailed to the Exchange Club of Neosho at P.O. Box 175, Neosho, MO 64850.