Flag Day...June 14th. As I sit here I am not sure how to put into words all that I would like to say. We were invited to Pennsylvania to attend a Flag Retirement Ceremony. I truly had no idea exactly what to expect. I've grown up knowing that there are certain protocol and rules pertaining to our Flag; knowing that when it is worn and no longer able to be flown there are proper ways to "retire" it. BUT I had never been to a retirement ceremony until this year.
As we arrived we wondered how it would go as it was raining and the ceremony was outdoors. We grabbed our umbrellas and went toward the site where everyone was gathering and tried to keep as dry as we could! Eddie was in his dress blues, he had thought earlier he might not wear them if the weather was bad...BUT he knew that there would be others there in uniform and so he wore his.
As the time for the ceremony neared the rain let up some and then stopped. A large crowd had gathered at the site for the retirement.
Eddie had been asked to give the opening prayer. Each part of the ceremony was packed with emotion! So much talent...and wonderful patriotic songs! I could not keep the "sweat" from my eyes. We are so blessed to live in this wonderful nation of ours! The land of the FREE, the home of the BRAVE.
There were children from an elementary school that performed and Boy Scouts as well as many talented singers and musicians. Each part of the program was full of emotion. I am so proud to be an American...I was so glad we had been invited to be here.
Later in the ceremony Eddie was asked to speak again and mentioned where we had been earlier in the week, at Walter Reed and Bethesda, giving honor to those who have served and are serving...keeping us safe.
When it was time to "retire" these grand flags the Boy Scouts reverently carried in the flags to be retired. There was one from each of 48 states. The Scouts presented the flags to the military personnel standing around the pit. Each branch of our military except the Coast Guard was represented. These men and one woman carefully unfolded the flags and laid them in the pit. It was something to see. When all the flags had been brought in several dignitaries came forward with flames and set them on the flags. The flags began to burn and my eyes continued to "sweat".
As the ceremony ended most of those in attendance stuck around. Several made their way to the pit to watch the flames lick at and burn the flags piled there. Many were taking pictures...no one seemed to be in a hurry to leave. Eddie was able to visit with Brigadier General Papak and give him a book. The General apologized to Eddie for not having a challenge coin to give him, but gave him a small bottle with sand from Iwo Jima! WOW...what an honor! AND what a treasure. It will be proudly displayed with all of Eddies other precious Marine "stuff." (Our living room just off the kitchen is the room where we display all of Eddies wonderful things. We recently painted it a Marine Corps red to better show off everything.)
I wish that every American could participate in such a ceremony. It will be something to always remember and treasure. Our flag should always be treated with great respect and honor.
Several of us stopped for a late evening meal and visited some more before saying our good byes. Eddie and I started on our trip home early the next morning.
Our friend and editor Joyce Faulkner has posted a slide show of pictures from the ceremony.