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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 for purity.

Third stripe: The red stands for courage.

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 country.”

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 “America”:

“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 Freedom ring.”

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.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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