Retiring the Flag

 
The Bonfire should have at least a 15 minute head start so that it is blazing well and has formed a good bed of coals. Use lots of light, split wood to accomplish this.  A single empty chair (Place of Honor) should be placed near the Ceremony Leader – center stage where you would normally seat a distinguished guest or guest of honor.

CEREMONY LEADER – Call to Order
We are gathered here to destroy these flags that have been deemed no longer serviceable.  It is proclaimed that each of these flags has served well.

These flags have inspired those who desired the taste of freedom and have represented hope to those oppressed by tyranny and terror.  These flags have welcomed any and all in the name of liberty.
The American flag flies free to the wind.  The American flag flies above residential porches, camp sites, small businesses, corporate offices, hospitals, schools, military and naval bases, government buildings, nonprofit organizations, at marina entrances, mast heads, and off the sterns of our boats.  The American flag is the most displayed and recognized banner in the world.

These flags serve as constant reminders to all of us that we live in a country where our freedom has been deeply purchased by blood, sweat, tears and ultimate sacrifice.  We must not forsake what those in the service to this flag, and their families, have forfeited.

To all here tonight who shall see this ceremony, greetings.  Know that these flags have served well and honorably. Their stars and stripes have been loosed to the winds of freedom and have basked in the light of liberty.

We have here tonight an empty Place of Honor for those who cannot attend due to devastating injury, infirmity, and death.  Please direct your attention to the Place of Honor and remember our fallen brothers and sisters, not only recently but of those patriots long ago who helped forge this nation.  In your mind’s eye see these people and think about them.  I dedicate this ceremony to those American’s, who loved the Flag

Please join me to recite the Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
And to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation, under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

The U.S. Flag Code states:  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.

Insert one properly folded flag into the center of the fire.

Read aloud:  “My Name is OLD GLORY”

 
I am the flag of the United States of America
My name is Old Glory.
I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America’s halls of justice.
I fly majestically over great institutes of learning.
I stand guard with the greatest military power in the world.
Look up! And see me!I stand for peace, honor, truth, and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident . . . I am arrogant.
I am proud.When I am flown with my fellow banners,
my head is a little higher,
my colors a little truer.I bow to no one.
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped.
I am saluted.
I am respected.
I am revered. I am loved.
And I am feared.

I have fought every battle of every war for more than 200 years…
Gettysburg, Shilo, Appomatox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the beaches of Normandy,
the deserts of Africa, the cane fields of the Philippines,
the rice paddies and jungles of Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam,
and a score of places long forgotten by all but those who were with me.

I was there!

I led my soldiers.
I followed them.
I watched over them…
They loved me.


I was on a small hill in Iwo Jima.
I was dirty, battle-worn and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me,
and I was proud.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries
I have helped set free.
It does not hurt . . . for I am invincible.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my country,
and when it is by those with whom I have served in battle . . . it hurts.
But I shall overcome . . . for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth
and stand watch over the uncharted new frontiers of space
from my vantage point on the moon.

I have been a silent witness to all of America’s finest hours.
But my finest hour comes
when I am torn into strips to be used for bandages
for my wounded comrades on the field of battle.
when I fly at half mast to honor my soldiers…
and when I lie in the trembling arms
of a grieving mother at the graveside of her fallen son.

I am proud.
My name is Old Glory.
Dear God . . . Long may I wave!

SMSgt. Don S. Miller, USAF (Ret.)
Copyright © 1983
Relisted January 9, 2009

Author’s Note… “My Name is Old Glory” was my way of remembering my brother,
Gunnery Sergeant John F. Miller, US Marine Corps.

Editor’s Note… USA Patriotism! has confirmed through the US Copyright office and other
documents that Don Miller is the author of “My Name is Old Glory” regardless of who
might be listed as the author elsewhere.

The remaining Flag’s are brought to the fire and slowly lowered into it!

As the remaining Flag’s are being consumed by the fire read the following:

About our Flag:
The Blue field or union is the point of honor, the upper corner of the Flag’s own right.  The symbolism of the right hand goes far back in antiquity when it was the weapon hand.  Raising the right arm free of any weapon meant peace.  It became a salute, a way of giving praise and honor.  The union is blue, representing the night sky with stars forming a new and glorious constellation.  There is one star for each state in our union.  It is said the point of honor of our flag was made from the blue cloak belonging to a Captain in the Continental Army.

The stripes are symbolic of beams of morning light, rays emanating from the sun.  Thirteen red and white stripes, one for each of the original thirteen colonies.  The stripes in our flag were inspired by the rattlesnake flag flown on the ships of the Continental Fleet and the striped banner of the Sons of Liberty.  Though the pattern has changed, the bars of shining red and gleaming white have remained.  The stripes are alternating, seven red and six white.  The red standing for courage and the blood of those brave men and women who fought and died to establish and preserve our republic; the white representing the purity and high moral resolve on which our country was founded.

The blue of a captain’s cloak, the white of a soldier’s shirt, the red from a flannel petticoat of a patriot’s wife… This was our flag.  This is the flag that stands for honor – yours and mine.

As the fire consumes the worn and tattered material in its purifying flame, let us remember the words of George Washington when the Star – Spangled Banner was first flown by the Continental Army:
“We take the stars from heaven and the red from our mother country.  We separate the red by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty.”

Thus the Stars and Stripes became what it is; born amid the strife of battle.  It has become the standard around which a free people have fought to preserve the greatest nation in the world.

This concludes tonights ceremony.

May God bless you all, your families, this great Nation and most of all – Our Flag!


Special Thanks to Past FSYC Commodore, Captain Mike Jackson for creating this moving ceremony