Saturday was a beautiful day to celebrate and honor the veterans that have served and are serving our country. The flags flapped a little in a gentle breeze as they were being placed along the sides of the Rohnert Park Community Center, also known as the Avenue of Flags.
The community center was well filled and the music was delightful while playing all of the military melodies.
The applause swelled with pride during the playing of what is called the “Armed Forces” salute. Members of the audience stood during the melody when their anthem was represented. The U.S. Coast Guard from the Petaluma Training Center presented the colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. Mayor Jake Mackenzie was the keynote speaker. He memorialized his uncle who is buried in Flanders Field.
This event was a special occasion as the installation of active duty military in the Rohnert Park military banner program took place. The banner honorees were Troy Snodgrass, Nathan Martin Air Force, Joseph B. Gali, Edward Csech, Coast Guard and Austin Nakatani, Marines.
Girl Scout Service Units 10234, 11040 and 10241 presented a flag retirement after the main event. To retire a flag you should burn it, recycle it or donate it. Scouts and Scouters have various options for retiring worn-out American flags.
Sometimes your flag will only need to be cleaned to restore its original appearance. Regular cleaning may extend its life considerably. Flags may be machine washed with a mild detergent in cold water and hung up to dry, but do not fold the flag if it is damp.
If your flag is to the point that it is unable to be repaired or too tattered, then the flag should be retired. The most dignified way to destroy old, worn faded and frayed U.S. flags is by burning them. Burning has been applied to flag retirement to offer the most reverent method of final tribute. No one person is authorized to retire the flag, any one person or group can do it. If you wish to recycle the flag yourself, you can cut up the flag using an approved technique that doesn’t cut through the blue star field. When the flag has been cut up, it is no longer officially a flag but here is a method to use. Stretch out the corners of the flag. Cut the flag in half, vertically-do not cut into the blue star field. Place the two halves together and cut in half, horizontally and you will have four pieces of flag, one being the blue star field and the other three red and white stripes. When burning the flag, do it respectfully. Lower and fold the flag and carefully place the folded flag on top of the fire. Take a moment to respect the flag by saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Make sure the fire is completely put out and put the flag in a container and dispose of it properly. Many units start the flag retirement process by contacting a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, Elks Lodge, American Legion but today the Girl Scouts did the ceremony with dignity. The young ladies lined up and spoke as to why each field in the flag was important.
When burning flags made of synthetic fibers, be cautious that they may burn quickly and emit noxious gases into the air. Handle such flags with care. Better still, just contact your local Boy or Girl Scout Troop and they will properly take care of the tattered old flag.