Saying goodbye to Old Glory with meaning
The first flag to be burned Wednesday in front of the Nevada Veterans Memorial was dismantled, literally and symbolically, before being destroyed by fire.
First, the 13 stripes were separated and dedicated to the fallen soldiers of different American conflicts.
The first stripe was dedicated to Nevada’s most recently fallen son, Marine Lance Cpl. Donald Cline of Sparks. The second to its second most recently casualty, Marine 1st Lt. Frederick Pokorney of Tonopah.
The rest were dedicated to those who gave their lives in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War. The 10th was dedicated to soldiers who died in Somalia, Panama and lesser known battles and operations. The 11th was for Cold War casualties. The 12th was for victims of Desert Shield and Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The last stripe was dedicated to “those who in the future will give the last measure of their being so that others may live in freedom.”
The Union was then committed to the fire behind the Capitol building.
First Vice Commander Tony Vaughn said crematoriums have been used to retire flags in the past, but burning isn’t always standard operating procedure.
“In the case of the C-Hill flag, we took it to a landfill, and they dug us a hole and we just buried it.”
The flag-retirement ceremony was part of the American Legion’s annual Boys State program.
“It’s the 57th session of Boys State,” said Tim Tetz of the legion. “The American Legion program began in 1937. We educate young men on being good leaders and the roles and responsibilities of being good citizens.”
Tetz said the young men form what they call the 51st state, elect a government, and do everything the state of Nevada does, “except more efficiently. We only give them a day.”
Members of Boys State retired 40 of 600 old U.S. flags. The remaining flags will be retired in ceremonies throughout the year.
“They all go through the same ceremony,” Tetz said. “Each flag has to be respected for what it stands for and where it flew. They all have meaning, whether they flew over McDonald’s, the Legislature or my house.”
American Legion Post No. 4’s District 4 Commander Tod Jennings began the ceremony with opening comments, the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation:
“Almighty God, bless and consecrate this present hour. We thank Thee for our country and its Flag, and for the liberty for which it stands. To clean and purging flame we commit these Flags, worn-out in worthy service. As they yield their substance to the fire, may Thy Holy Light spread over us and bring to our hearts renewed devotion to God and country. Amen.”
“A Nation’s Strength,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson was then read aloud.
Jay Hansen is the executive director of the program and an AFL-CIO lobbyist for the California Legislature.
“Boys State got me involved in politics, and I’ve been involved ever since,” Hansen said.
The high school juniors griped about the “efficiency of government” as they ate university-provided picnic lunches between the Capitol and the Legislative Building.
Their presence was acknowledged on the Assembly floor as the session shut down.
“Hope they have more success in the future than we’ve had in the past few days,” said Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley, D-Clark County.
“A Nation’s Strength”
By Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not gold, but only man can make
A people great and strong
Men who for truth and honor’s sake,
Stand fast and suffer long.
Brave men who work while others sleep
Who dare while others fly.
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.