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Arlington commemorates Flag Day
ARLINGTON — For several local veterans, Flag Day symbolizes more than the adoption of the American flag. For them, the holiday offers the opportunity for American citizens to show respect and honor to the symbol of a nation that many have given their lives to defend.
“It’s what our United States heritage is all about,” said Robert Dyson, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1561. “The flag with the red, white and blue colors represents our colonies, our states and what we fight for as veterans. When I look at the American flag, I see the fallen.”
Flag Day is a national holiday to commemorate the adoption of the flag, but some feel that it is a holiday often overlooked between Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day vacations and festivities.
“A lot of people don’t realize what Flag Day is about,” said Keith Reyes, of Arlington’s VFW Post 1561. “It’s one of those small holidays that goes by and maybe only veterans really know about it.”
On this year’s Flag Day, June 14, Reyes, Dyson and other veterans hosted a flag decommissioning ceremony at the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneer Museum in Arlington, for a small audience, in honor of the holiday. Reyes voiced an opening prayer and the audience pledged their allegiance to the flag. The prayer was followed by an inspection of four unusable flags, which were then burned in a ceremonial crematorium.
“Today is a decommissioning ceremony where they burn flags and then bury the ashes,” said Pioneer Organization President Myrtle Rausch. “Usually they only do the four flags and all others go to the crematorium. This ceremony is to get people aware of how they are supposed to dispose of a flag. If they are unsure, they can bring flags here or to any VFW or American Legion location.”
While the flags burned, members of the VFW held a rifle salute followed by a bugler playing “Taps.”
“I do this because it’s important to me,” said Bill Morse, of the VFW. “To me, the most important thing is our memorials for our fallen comrades.”
Veteran Ron Carlson agreed. “This shows respect for what the flag is. To honor our flag in ceremonies like this gives it the respect that’s due.”
Verna Mines was a member of the audience during the Flag Day ceremony, and said she feels that most people do not know how to properly retire the flag. “I am here today because I am very patriotic,” she said. “It would be nice for people to learn how it can be done properly. For the amount of vets that showed up, I thought they did very well.”
For Dyson, the day was about paying respect.
“I myself like to send out to our future how important the American flag really is,” he said. “It’s not a rag flying up there. It’s not a towel. It’s shed blood.”
For more information on retiring a flag, contact your local VFW chapter.