E WITNESSES FLAG BURNING
Not what you think. On Flag Day (June 14) my wife and I took a little getaway to a quaint small town in PA. We were strolling about the town when the sounds of live music drew us to the town square, to what turned out to be a Flag Day ceremony presented annually by the Elks lodge. A succession of Boy Scouts, in pairs, marched old flag after old flag to its ceremonial position on the platform. Old men presented a brief history of each flag in what amounted to a pretty comprehensive US history lesson. "The price of liberty is constant vigilance" was a theme. Many versions of the stars and stripes were honored, as well as the POW-MIA flag.
The local community band ("All Instruments - No Auditions") performed traditional favorites: The Star-Spangled Banner, God Bless America, a medley of Sousa marches, America the Beautiful, and others. We had followed the band's trailer into town but thought nothing of it at the time.
Everyone stood and pledged allegiance to the flag.
Finally the flag burning. A beat-up old flag was given an honorable retirement from service -- "presented for inspection and dignified disposal" ... "honorably retired from further service" ... it had "reached its present state through honorable service to our country" ... "worn out in worthy service" ... "retired and replaced" ... "fittingly destroyed." All the vets stood at attention while this was taking place. Man with bugle played Taps as an old vet set the folded flag ablaze in an urn.
The event was carried out with assistance from the local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, VFW, and American Legion. It was the kind of afternoon that Manhattan ridicules and that makes me proud to be an American. I really enjoyed it.