Flag Day: All Old Glory Represents
Old Glory Laid to Rest in a Reverent Service
You will hear a lot of whining about the “state of our public schools.” Like all of life in America our public schools are a mixed bag. But there are islands of sanity and exceptionalism. The Combined Honor Guard of the Grand Valley performed a flag retirement ceremony in front of my elementary school on the Monday before Veteran’s Day, 2010. The Autum air was cold and the wind pestered those on the outside of the large group of teachers and students who stood as witnesses to this touching and teachable moment. The crowd was mostly quiet and attentive. And a feeling of awe and gratitute compassed the school kids and their leaders, the way the wind-blown leaves swirled around our feet. This public school got it right. The alliance of well mannered and absorbent students, caring and observant teachers, and a patriotic Principal made for one of the most memorable moments of the school year.
Old Glory, our nation’s symbol and the image of liberty throughout the world, was retired. The cycle of generations, whether it be of a cloth artifact, threadbare and faded, or the Republic for which it stands, returns the old to ash and the new to a perch in the sky. The following is the script which is recited and performed at all formal flag retirement ceremonies. ”
The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.
This recitation is like a prayer. And it touched my heart with the same tender reverence that only prayer can evoke. But this is simply the reconciliation of sentiments for a Nation and her ensign that have been Divinely established, and which perpetuates her Divine purposes even today, during dark and perplexing times. The United States of America was founded upon the idea that worship of the Divine is magnified to its fullest meaning and purpose only when it is not compulsory. The human heart comes by freedom naturally, and it is contrary to human nature to endure oppression in any measure. Heavenly Father is the Author of Liberty, and no power or nation can survive while crushing the free liberty of its people, whether it be the liberty to worship how, where, or what one may, or the opportunity to fail or succeed while wielding that very liberty. The retirement ceremony for Old Glory felt holy because it was holy. The purpose of liberty is sacred and the blood of the patriots who died, and will die, in its defense is sanctified. Old Glory, laid to rest because she is worn out and tattered, does not cede her holy appointment to ashes and dust, but she is replaced with something new, fresh and ready to endure another epoch of weather and wind.