Sunday, June 15, 2014

The American Legion Post 14 Flag Retirement Ceremony

Yesterday was Flag Day and as is customary the American Legion Post 14 on Cross Lake conducted its annual Flag Retirement Ceremony.

Steve and I got there early to help set up and prepare for the ceremony; Steve was to participate in the ceremony yesterday and wanted to do a quick run through with the Boy Scouts that would be assisting.

We hauled the podium, amp, and flags out to the hill by the Boy Scout hut, we set up chairs in the shade for spectators, and brought out iced bottles of water.  

Here's our buddy Jerry helping hook up the amp:

The Boy Scouts got the fire going:

Various organizations were present and brought flags to be retired.  The VFW was there:

And Shawn Bohanan, Chef de Gare of  Voiture Locale 137 of the Forty & 8:

My friends John and Julia Dunning were there; I liked this one:

But Steve had me retake it when they were all paying attention:

After everything was set up Steve rounded up his little delegation and ran them through their paces a time or two; the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Young Marines were also there and joined the Scouts in assisting.

A small group of spectators assembled in the shade:

The Flag Retirement Ceremony is very dignified and formal.  A ceremonial flag is presented for inspection by the First and Second Vice-Commander and the Commander says:

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 finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its 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, 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 or sailor dead be unhonored and unmarked. Sergeant-at-Arms, assemble the Color Guard, escort the detail bearing the Flags and destroy these Flags by burning. The members shall stand at attention.”

There is a prayer, and a bugler plays "To the Colors" and "Taps".  

One of the values of the ceremony, I think, is the dignity of it and the respect that the young people learn.  

Those participating did an awesome job.

The local media was there scrambling for the perfect shot:

And the firemen were there to keep everything safe!

After the bugler is finished, the flags are placed on the iron grate for burning.  At that point, legionnaires and veterans in attendance assist the Scouts in placing the flags on the grate.

This goes on for a while as the flags are properly consumed by the fire.  There were lots and lots of flags that had been collected through the year.

The fire department was at the ready:

You definitely wanted to stay out of the smoke:

The column of black smoke could be seen for miles:

And the heat from the fire was intense:

Just as it was all over and the fire about burned out, a lady drove up with a handful of flags and those went in too.  

It all took about forty-five minutes and then it was done.  

We loaded up the podium, chairs, amp, and the Post flags and cleaned everything up then adjourned to the lounge for some cold refreshments.  

Following that, Jerry, Steve and I went to grab some lunch then spent the rest of the afternoon cruising Cross Lake and just drifting the afternoon away.  

Check out this magnificent heron:

He was awesome:

And if all that wasn't enough fun, I made friends with a stray, nearly feral, kitten that is hanging around the Legion;  I fed her ham, cheese and crackers from our boat snacks.  It took me forever to get her to let me pet her but once she decided I was okay, she was very sweet.  We are going out there today to take some proper food for her so that whoever is on site each day can feed her.  

If you know of anyone who wants a sweet, beautiful kitten, let me know!

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