RETIRING THE FLAG - June 1, 2006
We had a family reunion at our
home over the weekend. The unspoken purpose was to hold a
gathering of friends and relatives after separation. We also
choose to honor our pioneers beginning with those who came here
around the beginning of the 19th century. Through the years,
they have worked to establish Calhoun County and keep it going
by service in the public sector, armed services or as volunteers
in the community.
Part of the reunion tradition is
to visit the cemetery. We knew that the flag would have to be
replaced this year. Delegate Bill Stemple knew of my husband’s
love of America and especially of Calhoun County. He had
requested a flag for the cemetery. Bill also knows that
education in citizenship has a high priority on my list, so he
suggested that we retire the tattered flag and raise a new one
in its place with a brief ceremony to reaffirm our American
beliefs. At his suggestion, we turned the flag over to the
American Legion for the ceremonial burning and burial.
We found information on the
website of the Boy Scouts of America. I would like to share some
of this with our readers.
A flag is never said to be
burned, it is retired. It is not a flag burning ceremony.
Disposing of a flag that is worn, faded, or tattered by retiring
is the only method approved by Congress. It is a ceremony which
shows respect and honor to the retired flag.
Here is our ceremony:
“Remember as you look at the
flag, it is the symbol of our nation, it is red because of human
sacrifice; blue because of the true blue loyalty of its
defenders; and white symbolizes liberty-- our land of the free.
The stars are symbols of the united efforts and hope in the
hearts of the many people striving to keep America great.”
As the flag was lowered, readings
for each stripe were given:
First stripe: The 13 stripes
stand for the 13 original colonies, which are Massachusetts,
Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New
Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, and New Jersey.
Second stripe: The white stands
Third stripe: The red stands for
Fourth stripe: “Give me liberty
or give me death.”
Fifth stripe: “One if by land,
two if the sea.”
Sixth stripe: We the people of
the United States, in order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the
common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the
blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain
and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.
Seventh stripe: We hold these
truths to be self evident that all men are created equal. They
are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.
Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Eighth stripe: Congress shall
make no law respecting an establishment of religion or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Ninth stripe: Congress shall make
no law abridging the freedom of speech or press.
Tenth stripe: “Four score and
seven years ago, our fathers brought forth to this continent a
new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.”
Eleventh stripe: The right of
citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or
abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Twelfth stripe: “Ask not what
your country can do for you, but what you can do for your
Thirteenth stripe: “One small
step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“I Am Old Glory” was then read to
show our respects for the flag as a symbol of our America:
“For more than 9 score years I
have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after
generation of Americans. Born amid the first flames of America’s
fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown
from a little group of 13 colonies to a united nation of 50
sovereign states. Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of
American Faith, my gently fluttering folds have proved an
inspiration to untold millions. Men have followed me into battle
with unwavering courage. They have looked upon me as a symbol of
national unity. They have prayed that they and their fellow
citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit
of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the
heritage of free men. So long as men love liberty more than life
itself; so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought
with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of
truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human
hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United
States of America.”
As the new flag is raised, the
group says together the Pledge of Allegiance and then sings
“I Pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it
stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all.”
“My country ’tis of Thee, Sweet
Land of Liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride, From every mountain side, Let
This was adapted from a program
prepared by Benny Ledford, Troop 46/ASM, Lynnville, Tenn.
The trip back down the hill was
not a solemn parade, but you knew the younger generation was
beginning to accept pride in the sacrifices their ancestors gave
so we might live in this Land of Liberty.