Dozens of tattered American flags were solemnly retired as patriotic music played in the background Saturday afternoon in Walnut Cove at Lions Park.
Veterans of Foreign Wars, David Mitchell Post 11173 assisted by VFW Post 9436 Pilot Mountain and VFW Post 2019 Mount Airy held the ceremony as a way to properly dispose of the older flags which had been collected in the past two years.
Veteran Carl Hinkle of VFW Post 11173, told the crowd of around 75 people, although there isn’t a specific procedure to retire a United States flag, it is expected to be destroyed in a dignified manner.
“I did a little research because we had never done one at a community level,” Hinkle said and after some investigation he learned flags shouldn’t touch the ground, they should be placed in a metal container, burned and the ashes buried.
“I didn’t feel like that was quite the manner which we should be retiring a symbol that represents the greatest nation on earth. We gathered flags from all over the community as well as flags brought here today, to retire them in a dignified manner,” he said.
For ceremonial purposes, four flags were retired which represented part of the nation’s history.
Velma Burcham, with the Rockingham motorcycle chapter, dipped her flag in kerosene as Hinkle read, “This is to honor our forefathers who pledged their lives and fortunes to gain our freedom from the British and gave us a document that has guided us for nearly 300 years.”
Greg Larocat and son, Alex with Boy Scout Troop 444 out of Walnut Cove, retired flags, “To honor those men and women who serve, fought under this flag to defend those freedoms and to honor citizens from towns, like Walnut Cove and other cities that make up this great nation.”
The last flag retired by Jack Cardwell with the VFW Post 1173 represented, “Our youth as they are our future and must pick up the banner and continue to protect our freedoms. For if we ever fail to defend our freedoms, we will surely lose them,” Hinkle said.
Hinkle invited others who attended to retire flags that had previously flown over a private residence, businesses, schools, government buildings, or in the town of Walnut Cove. He asked each person after dipping the flag in kerosene and placing it in the fire drum, to step back, place their hand over their heart and partake in a moment of silence.
“When we think about the flag, they come in different sizes and shapes. The materials can range anywhere from very inexpensive to the most expensive silk, but that is not the intrinsic value of the United States flag. The value lies in the ideology in which we live and breathe under that flag. Freedom, liberty and justice for all, for by and of the people of the United States.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.