Down the hall: Flag burning an honor when done right

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 25, 2007

By Kimberly Swaim / Guest Columnist

On the usually cold, second Saturday in December, a tradition takes place. An annual occurrence where Shelby County High School JROTCs gather to retire old and worn American flags properly.

This year, Vincent, Thompson, and Shelby County High School cadets traveled to Vincent instructor Lt. Col. Larry Moore’s farm.

Each school brought boxes of tattered flags that had been gathered from throughout their respective communities.

Upon arrival, the combined Color Guard, consisting of Blake Srygley and myself from VHS, Alex Marinson and Bailey Gothard from THS, and Olen Croft and Tonya Allen from SCHS prepared for the ceremony.

As the bonfire used to retire the flags was started, many of the cadets tossed a football around or played in the hay. Once the ceremony began, all the cadets gathered while “To the Colors” was played by Josh Sims.

Cadet Lt. Col. Audryana Kelley, from Vincent High School, then instructed cadets to place the separated colors of the flags into the fire, noting the significance of each color.

Once all was placed into the fire, the Color Guard rendered a final salute to our nation’s symbol ending that portion of the ceremony.

Though the retiring of the nation’s colors is a necessary event, cadets also get a sense of camaraderie out of it.

They got to bond with others in JROTC, and the combined events also let the cadets get to know each other better.

Frisbees, footballs and spirits soared as they enjoyed the afternoon.

Cadets also got to enjoy a tremendous feast of roasted hot dogs, which they had to cook themselves.

After eating, the cadets were released on the farm. Many of them decided to go admire the cattle.

The instructors found it amusing watching the cadets run from the docile farm animals.

After everything was over, the cadets left with a sense of pride for their country. Most never having retired the nation’s colors before that day, cadets learned how to do it respectfully.

The values they learned will hopefully carry-on throughout their lives, bettering them as citizens.

Such an event is one of the many cadets look forward to while they are in JROTC, all of which are great experiences.

Kimberly Swaim is a junior at Vincent High School. She is an active member in the JROTC program