I know, you're wondering what in the world a flag retirement ceremony has to do with 'Families First'. Right? Well, to be honest, I'm not exactly sure. But how about this: Teaching our children about the country they belong to and the values that country holds true, will give them a greater sense of community and country loyalty. They will recognize and hopefully incorporate those positive values into their lives and their personalities.
For instance, here in the United States of America, our flag, has specific meanings attached to its appearance. Did you know our flag has 13 red and white stripes, representing the original 13 colonies; red stripes representing hardiness and valor, white stripes representing purity and innocence. There are 50 stars, each representing the 50 states of the Union. Originally there were 13 stars, symbolizing a new constellation--not bad for the creation of a new country. And the blue background representing vigilance, perseverance, and justice.
My girlfriend's son, for his Eagle Scout project, retired flags in our community that were worn, torn, or otherwise not worthy to be flown. We actually have a Flag Code in our country about how we should treat and revere our flag, including its disposal. Apparently (I heard at the ceremony) we are not suppose to use the image of our flag on clothing, paper plates, napkins, cups or anything where it would be defaced or not disposed of properly.
For Tyler's flag retirement ceremony, he welcomed us, we prayed, participated in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, then Tyler gave us the meanings above. To continue the ceremony, each flag was picked up, its history was read (where it flew and when), the audience rose, then it was displayed, folded at the four corners (stars up), placed in the fire, the audience saluting and taps playing as the flag burned. When it was completely gone, salutes were completed and the history of the next flag was read, the ceremony then repeated. Tyler, Speedy, Shorty, and Smiley did that 36 times on Saturday. It only took us four and half hours. After we were finished, the ashes were to be collected and buried. It was a lot of work! And Tyler only retired half of the flags he had collected. He has to finish off the rest of them another time.
It was really an emotional experience watching the flags burn and to think about what they were and what they symbolized and who they symbolized them for. One woman, who was there at the beginning, went home, got her neighbor and had her neighbor bring her flag to be retired. Her particular flag had belonged to her son, who had been killed in the Iraqi conflict. I cried just watching her realizing that for her this moment was sacred. One of the flags Tyler and the guys retired had flown during WWII!
It was amazing to watch and being a trumpet player, knowing what that poor bugler's lips were feeling like, playing and playing and playing. I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing country! I am grateful for the freedoms I enjoy and the men and women who gave their lives so that I can have the freedoms and experiences I do!! I love my country!! And pray that I will do my part to keep it 'the land of the Free and the home of the Brave'!!