A local tradition dating back to 1985 was continued Friday when the Highland County Veterans Honor Guard held a flag retirement ceremony on Flag Day, Friday, June 14, at Hillsboro VFW Post 9094.
The local public ceremony alternates each year between the AmVets Post at Rocky Fork Lake and the Hillsboro VFW Post, with VFW Post Commander Rick Wilkin saying that this year’s ceremony was like those held in previous years in that it featured a flag folding presentation with an explanation of the meaning of each fold.
Over three decades ago, late Hillsboro resident Norman DeHaas organized Flag Day ceremonies in Highland County that included erecting a new flag and flag pole at the location where the ceremonies were held.
After organizing the event for 19 years, DeHaas passed away and his family continued the ceremonies for a few years afterward until the AmVets and VFW posts took them over.
While some may be shocked and appalled at the thought of burning a flag, according to the VFW website, incineration is the prescribed method of reverently disposing of a torn or tattered flag.
The website VFW.org advocates a six-step procedure for retirement and disposal of worn American flags:
• First, insure that local/state fire codes or ordinances are observed.
• It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete incineration of the flag.
• The flag should be folded in its customary 13-fold manner, as Wilkin described during Friday’s ceremony.
• Place the flag on the fire reverently.
• During the ceremony, individuals can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing The National Anthem or have a brief period of silent reflection on what the flag means and represents.
• After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
Vocalist Diane Coffee and musician Jennie Harner provided the music for the occasion, leading those assembled in several patriotic songs culminating with “You’re a Grand Old Flag” following the flag retirement ceremony.
Judy Hornsby of the local Waw-Wil-A-Way chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution shared viewpoints on Flag Day from the perspective of the flag itself, as if the flag were telling its own story of leading the charge for freedom in the American Revolution, up through the world wars to flying in the windless black sky on the surface of the moon and into the many challenges facing the nation today.
Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on June 14, 1777 by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress.
Friday’s observance of Flag Day also celebrated two other related events in the nation’s history: the 1775 creation of the U.S. Army and the anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower’s’ signature on a measure adding “under God” to the pledge of allegiance in 1954.
Flag Day was officially established by a proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916, and while the observance was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson’s proclamation, it was not until Aug. 3, 1949 that President Harry Truman signed an act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.