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Somber retirement ceremony properly retires American flags with dignity

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Posted at 11:14 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 00:19:50-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Tuesday was Flag Day in the Coastal Bend and across the United States.

Only this year, the holiday feels a bit more poignant and patriotic.

That’s mostly because this year's flag retirement ceremony in Nueces County included your old, tattered flags.

Hundreds of viewers participated in our first ever KRIS 6 “Flag for a Flag” exchange program.

Viewers turned in worn flags, for a new one to wave on Flag Day.

Tuesday morning, a handful of those flags was properly retired with respect at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Ceremony. The rest will be retired in the coming days.

To those attending the ceremony, there's only one way to lay the flag to rest; with dignity.

"It's something you should retire with honor. A lot of veterans fought for that flag and our country," said Hilda Olguin, a spokesperson for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.

Anita Vanderstucken, who's husband served in the U.S. Marines, drove to the event from nearby Portland.

"Oh my gosh, the flag just gives me chills. On a day like this, it's wonderful," said Vanderstucken of the ceremony.

This flag “retirement” ceremony actually dates back to 1937 when the American Legion passed a resolution introducing this important and reverent ritual.

According to the resolution, "The approved method of disposing of unserviceable flags has long been that they be destroyed by burning."

Rules on how to properly fly the flag were established before then in June 1923.

A National Flag Conference met in Washington to create Flag Code.

The group decided "the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing."

Tuesday, various dignitaries gathered at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery.

20 of them ceremoniously draped a worn flag across their outstretched arms and took turns dropping them into an open burn pit. Now the flags are officially retired.

More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans.

Contact Veterans In Focus reporters: Greg Chandler at greg.chandler@kristv.com and Pat Simon at pat.simon@kristv.com