(More photos below)Flag day is a holiday that rarely gets much thought. Most annual events have some familiar theme or symbol; Be it a turkey or the pilgrims, twinkling lights or fireworks, we have all come to expect a holiday to announce itself in advance. Flag day holds the unusual honor of being a holiday where the symbol stands year round. Perhaps that’s why it’s overlooked. Maybe if the American flag were only flown during ‘flag day season’ the holiday would receive more notoriety, and the symbol itself would not become invisible to us. Instead, the overwhelming display of the American flag has dulled our appreciation for the meaning and history of the colors. Rarely is something so common so sacred.
In consideration of this, we attended a Flag Day Ceremony held at an American Legion Post neighboring Kaufman County. The legion has a yearly ceremony wherein they gather worn or tattered flags which are beyond repair or service, and prepare them for ceremonial retirement. The lawful way to retire a damaged or aged United States Flag is ceremonial incineration. This is a process is respectful and reverent, though most Americans are unaware of this custom. The language used in the ceremony at Post 310 helps convey the meaning and import of this tradition.
The following is an excerpt from the ceremony:
“Comrades, we have presented here these Flags of our Country which have been inspected and condemned as unserviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory, and love.
A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of the finest silk. It’s intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but it’s 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.
Let these faded Flags of our Country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new Flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier, sailor, or airmen dead be unhonored and unmarked.
Sergeant-at-Arms, assemble the Color Guard, escort the detail bearing the Flags and destroy these Flags by burning.”
After the ceremony, members gathered outside the Post and had a simple low burning fire, where they honored the flag, and those who gave their lives in defense of the country it symbolizes.
Special thanks to American Legion Post 310 in Gun Barrel for welcoming LookUp Kaufman to their event.