I am a happy member of the Adrian Kiwanis Club. This is a great group of community minded people making a real impact while having a lot of fun. One of the good things we do is put up about 1,400 U.S. flags in the Adrian community on patriotic holidays. Howard Pennington and myself put up a few dozen.

Today we had a solemn ceremony. During our regular weekly meeting, the Boy Scout Troop 632 from Tecumseh demonstrated the U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony. I have never witnessed this. It was such a meaningful moment, I thought I would share with you what happened. Most of my thoughts are taken from Mike Jacobitz, fellow Kiwanian.

The ceremony opens with the flag to be retired carried by a color guard to the front of the gathering. The
flag was unfurrowed and the group recited the Pledge of Allegiance. The color guard unit leader then recites a tribute to the Flag as on of the Boy Scouts cuts each stripe and places it in the fire.

I am your flag. I was born on June 14, 1777. I am more than just a piece of cloth shaped into a colorful design. I am the refuge of the world’s oppressed people. I am the silent sentinel of freedom. I am the emblem of the greatest sovereign nation on earth. I am the inspiration for which American Patriots gave their lives and fortunes. I have led your sons into battle from Valley Forge to the dry deserts of Iraq. I walked in silence with each of your honored dead to their final resting place, beneath the silent white crosses row upon row. I have flown through peace and war, strife and prosperity, and amidst it all I have been respected. “Old Glory” is my nickname; proudly I wave on high. Honor me, respect me, and defend me with your lives and your fortunes. Never let my enemies tear me down from my lofty position lest I never return. Keep alight the fires of patriotism, strive earnestly for the spirit of democracy, and keep me always as a symbol of freedom and liberty in our country. 

Finally, when the last stripe was consumed, the field of stars was respectfully folded and also placed in the flames.

The ceremony closed with the playing of Taps and the Scouts then offered the members of our Club to pass by the pyre and place a stripe of a previously rendered flag in the fire. It was a moving ceremony.