News: Flag Day: Marines, local community gather to honor Old Glory
Story by Lance Cpl. S.T. Stewart
CHERRY POINT, N.C. - More than 200 people stood in silence and watched as more than 70 American flags burned in a ceremonial fire, June 14.
The crowd, consisting of Marines and community members came together to celebrate Flag Day by burning unserviceable American flags near the 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion headquarters building here.
The U.S. Flag Code dictates that “the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
“This is the only way to dispose of our great nation’s flag,” said Lt. Col. Joel A. Burdette, commanding officer of the battalion. “This is our second year doing this and my hope is that this tradition will live on for years to come.”
Before the flags were set ablaze, members of the crowd spoke about what the flag meant to them. Many stated the flag stands for freedom, independence, tradition, and for the men and women who gave their lives to defend this nation.
David R. Sprague, 12, from New Bern, N.C., and corporal in the New Bern Young Marines, said that when he sees the American flag, no matter where it is or what size, he thinks of freedom. “The flag stands for independence and a reminder to all of us of what this nation stands for,” he said.
2nd LAAD Marines gathered the flags from the local community, folded each into a traditional triangle fold, and displayed them upon a table before the ceremony began.
One by one, those who wished to participate took a flag off of the table, walked to the edge of the fire, and gently placed the flag into the flames, standing in silence for a brief moment to pay their respects.
“It is an honor to be able to see a ceremony like this and to see the retiring of the American flag,” said 1st Sgt. John E. Partin, the company first sergeant for 2nd LAAD’s Headquarters and Service Battery.
As each Marine set a flag in the fire, they stood at the position of attention and gave one last salute to Old Glory.