Archive for Wednesday, May 22, 2013

They have served well’

Scouts, VFW retire flags in flames

Pat Donahue, right, leader for Troop 61, adds another flag to the fire during the retirement ceremony, while VFW member Pete Gomez (center) and Scout Kardal Hart look on.

Pat Donahue, right, leader for Troop 61, adds another flag to the fire during the retirement ceremony, while VFW member Pete Gomez (center) and Scout Kardal Hart look on.

May 22, 2013

Before the flags could be engulfed in flames, Lt. Col. James Holley proclaimed that each had “served well and honorably.”

“Their stars and stripes have been loosed to the winds of freedom and have basked in the light of liberty,” he said.

Holley, senior vice president of Bonner Springs VFW Post 6401, conducted his first flag retirement ceremony Saturday at Camp Naish, though it marked the fifth year that the VFW has partnered with Bonner Boy Scout Troop 149 for a ceremony at the Boy Scout camp.

The United States Flag Code states that the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. A fitting precursor to Memorial Day next week, Holley said he has attended ceremonies in the past and created Saturday’s ceremony from guidelines for several other ceremonies, striking a balance between the most and least formal.

2013 Memorial Day Ceremony

The city of Bonner Springs will have its annual Memorial Day Service at 10 a.m. Monday, May 27, 2013, at the Soldiers Circle in the Bonner Springs Cemetery located at Metropolitan and Sheidley.

Mayor Jeff Harrington will be the Master of Ceremonies. The VFW Post 6401 will Present the Colors, a Flag Ceremony and perform a 21 Gun Salute.

Individuals who attend the ceremony may bring old flags that need to be retired and the city will ensure they are properly retired.

“There’s not an actual, official ceremony,” said Holley, who takes over as commander of the VFW next month. “There are about five different variants … in one ceremony, they have you cutting out the stars and stripes before burning them.”

Saturday’s event did not go to that extreme. Open to any Scouts at the camp who had time to view it, just a handful of Scouts and Troop 61 from Lawrence.

The VFW members gave the Scouts a brief tutorial in folding the flag before the ceremony began, and then Holley read a statement he had formulated for the service.

“These flags serve as constant reminders to all of us that we live in a country where our freedom has been deeply purchased by blood, sweat, tears and ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “We must not forsake what those in the service to this flag, and their families, have forfeited.”

Holley quizzed the Scouts on the symbolism found in the flag: Its colors, red, white and blue, standing for courage, purity or honor and valor; its stripes standing for the original 13 colonies and stars for all of the current states. He also recounted the battles that the flag has flown over, from the Revolutionary War to the current battle in Afghanistan.

The Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and God Bless America also were part of the ceremony, as well as the ceremonial Taps. VFW members and Scouts then proceeded to place about 75 flags, which the VFW has collected over the past year, in the fire.

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