Alabaster honors veterans, retires worn American flags

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The about 50 people in attendance at Alabaster’s first Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Park on Nov. 11 stood motionless and silent as members of Boy Scout Troop 548 walked one-by-one to place worn American flags into a fire pit to retire them properly.

“We come together today to dispose of multiple flags that are no longer usable,” said troop member Rand Willis. “All of these were flown over local homes and businesses.”

Over the past several weeks, Willis, through his Eagle Scout project, has constructed and distributed throughout the area multiple collection boxes for damaged or old American flags.

Since putting the boxes out, the troop has seen an influx of people wanting to properly dispose of their old flags. The retirement ceremony served as one of the highlights of Alabaster’s daylong Veterans Day celebration at the park.

“To have a member of our community, especially a young member, think of something so special and important really shows what our community is all about,” Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon said of Willis.

Alabaster kicked off the Veterans Day celebration with a brief ceremony at the park’s veterans memorial, which was flanked by flagpoles flying the American, Alabama and military service branch flags.

During the ceremony, Handlon thanked locals who have served in the military, several of who were in attendance at the event.

“We are thankful for the people who have served and are still serving,” Handlon said. “All of you here today who are veterans, we thank you for your service to our country, and for everything you have done.”

Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy and Marine Chris George served as the keynote speaker for the inaugural event, and shared a message about respecting the Stars and Stripes and learning to forgive enemies.

“When I look at the flag, I see red, white, blue and a cluster of stars. The stars mean that we are all one united people and the red represents all the blood that has been shed to make the nation what it is today,” George said. “The white is because we, as a nation, were founded on judeo-Christian principles. Those were given to us by the creator, and I know that creator is our almighty God. If we don’t turn our faces back to God, we will fail.”

George encouraged those in attendance to let go of hatred in their hearts and learn to forgive their enemies.

“We have to be willing to repent. We’ve got to be able to forgive those who have trespassed against us,” George said. “God has blessed America. If we continue to serve him, he will continue to bless us.”