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Nevada ceremony highlights flag, patriotism

The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution held an American flag retirement ceremony at the Veterans Cemetery in Boulder City.

Flags that reached the end of their usable age through decay, rips and tears, fire damage or other consequences were ceremoniously burned by individuals and representatives of patriotic groups.

The worn flags came from all over Southern Nevada. Nikki Allen-Kyger, a regent in the Valley of Fire NSDAR, opened the program by telling the audience, “Thanks for your devotion to the flag and to your country.”

After an invocation by Chaplain Alexx Green, and a music selection by Bagpiper Dennis Hangey of the Scottish American Military Society, Shirley Dunphy led the Pledge of Allegiance at the event this spring.

There were several speakers who presented formal patriotic comments, and others who presented personal statements. Fred Wagar, Deputy Director of the Nevada Department of Veterans Services which has an office in Pahrump, commented that the American flag is known by several names — Stars and Stripes and Old Glory being two.

He noted that it’s a “piece of cloth that creates many emotions. The flag represents a lot.” He added that the flag is “the face of veterans,” and represents the memory for some of them of being overseas while serving in the military. He further explained that when a flag is torn and tattered it is no longer serviceable and must be destroyed in a dignified manner. “We are all here because we respect the flag.”

Several formal selections were read by National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution officials. Of special note, teenager Madison Van Ness of the Children of the American Revolution read a poem she composed entitled “Proud to Serve You.”

At the conclusion of the formal ceremony, members of the audience helped to carry the distressed flags outside to the Walk of Life where a burn pit had been fired up. They stood with their hands over their hearts while “Taps” was played. Then one by one, men and women, boys and girls, passed by the flames and deposited the flags.

At one point during the procession, a military helicopter was flown over the cemetery in an airborne expression of honor. It flew low enough to the ground for those watching to excitedly wave to the smiling pilot, who was easily recognizable. It was a fitting end to a day of respect, honoring America’s flag from the ground all the way up to the sky.

Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.

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