Flags Into Flames the Proper Way - Honoring Our National Symbol

Lisa Patrick

The Ashland Beacon


   On the evening of Veterans Day, when our nation honors its heroes, the Ashland Fire Department was joined by members of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and local scout troops to pay homage to the national symbol of our freedom, the American flag. They held a flag retirement ceremony at the Ashland Riverfront, where old flags that no longer display their colors brightly were surrendered into flames.

   Fire Chief Carl Stambaugh, first mentioned America’s veterans and active soldiers who “serve every day to protect our country and its ideals.” He called for a sacred moment to 

Photo by Lisa Patrick Boy Scout Nick Williams cuts the “field of stars” from a flag being retired. Holding the flag are (from left) Nathaniel Williams, William Barlow, and Ian Hall.

remember those who have served because “a nation that forgets its defenders will soon itself be forgotten.”

   Stambaugh spoke of the “symbol of our nation” with its seven red stripes and six white stripes signifying the original thirteen colonies “that gained us liberty” and the stars representing the fifty states on a field of blue signifying truth and justice. He said that regardless of the material that a flag is made of, its “real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our people have worked for, lived for, and died for.” The flag has “stood tall” throughout the history of the United States, a “monument of freedom for all Americans.” 

   Stambaugh says that when the American flag becomes “in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should not simply be cast aside or discarded in any way that might be viewed as disrespectful.” The American flag is only to “be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” 

   The American flag that was being retired by the A.F.D. was saluted with a presentation of colors by the Ashland Paul Blazer JROTC Color Guard. The flag that had “flown proudly over the years and done her job well” was retired into the flames.

   The ceremony was then taken over by the Daughters of the American Revolution with the help of Girl Scout Troop 1100, Boy Scout Troop 1100, and Cub Scout Pack 1100. DAR Daughters led the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem was performed by Emily Robinson. 

   Boy Scout Nick Williams alongside Cub Scouts William Barlow, Nathaniel Williams, and Ian Hall held an older flag that was going to be properly retired into the flames. Nick Williams first cut out the “field of stars” which was then held to the side by scouts Barlow and Hall. Nathaniel Williams held the flag straight while Nick Williams cut each strip.

   As each stripe was cut from the entire flag, a member of Girl Scout Troop 1100 would call out the name of the colony that it represented. A member of Cub Scout Pack 1100 would then carry the piece of fabric carefully to the firefighters waiting at the fire to surrender each part to the flames. The last piece of the flag to enter into the flames was the “field of stars.” 

   DAR Daughter Deborah Cook Everman then led the crowd in saying the American Creed. TAPS was played by Ashland Paul Blazer Band member David Keeton, Jr. 

   Additional flags that had been received by members of the community were then retired into the flames. Members of the Ashland Fire Department stayed long after the ceremony to watch over the flames until there were no remnants left of any of the flags.