Flags retired in respectful ceremony
GRAVETTE — Members of the John E. Tracy American Legion post, along with several family members and guests, gathered at the United Methodist Church fellowship hall Tuesday, June 19, for their annual flag retirement ceremony. Post members hold a ceremony near the Flag Day holiday each year to dispose of flags which have become faded and worn and are no longer serviceable.
Flags to be retired are collected from local businesses and individuals, and a brief ceremony is held before their disposal. The ceremony was opened with a prayer from post chaplain Jheri Roberts. Post members stood at attention as post commander Bill Mattler, of Hiwasse, spoke a tribute to the faded flags.
His tribute read, in part: “A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for and died for — a free nation of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of justice, freedom and democracy.”
Flags were presented by Teddy Selby, sergeant at arms, to commander Mattler. The flags were first examined by first vice-commander Dave Malczynski, who determined they were no longer usable, and then by second vice-commander Mark Russow. After the final inspection, they were retired by a dignified and respectful burning.
Guests at the flag retirement were treated to a cookout afterward. Young and old alike enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, chips, cookies and soft drinks.
Will Crose, past first vice-commander for the John E. Tracy American Legion post, oversees the burning of a retired American flag. Members of the Gravette group hold a flag retirement ceremony each year to retire flags which become faded and worn and are no longer serviceable. SUSAN HOLLAND firstname.lastname@example.org