Ensuring the respectful care of flags that should no longer be displayed

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Flag Burning Ceremony honors Old Glory
Nov 16 2009, 8:30 am by JJ Pair

 21-Gun Salute honors the retirement of Old Glory

The gathering at Flagpole Hill on November 14th was a sight to see, indeed.

Smoke billowed from four hand-crafted fire boxes as a crowd of reverent folks, many in uniform, awaited a ceremony that once concluded, would allow them to burn their tattered Old Glories.

Yes, flag burning in Lake Highlands.

This gathering had nothing in common with the rebellious and chaotic flag burnings of the 60’s, thanks to Jeanette Prasifka, Founder of http://www.oldwornflag.com.

Prasifka has received a lot of press lately and for good reason - she works tirelessly to teach citizens proper flag etiquette, including how to retire tattered, old flags.

She has lovingly made it her mission seek out old, worn flags whose cloth has weathered and frayed. This mission ensures that each flag is put down with the dignity and respect deserving of the emblem of our nation. But by burning them? Absolutely.

In 1923, at a National Flag Conference in Washington, D.C., the United States Flag Code was adopted. Many people know some of the basic rules that pertain to the handling and displaying of the American Flag, such as never letting it touch the ground or using it as apparel.

However, most people don’t realize that burning a worn flag is indeed proper protocol. As specifically stated in the code, "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

Additionally, cutting up the flag, another presumed taboo, is also actually quite appropriate.

Prior to burning the flags at the day's ceremony, Boy Scouts and ROTC Cadets took scissors in hand and cut away the blue squares holding the 50 white stars, representing our states, from the red and white stripes, representing the 13 colonies that settled America.

Once done, they knew that the flags could be properly burned.

Prasifka is passionate in her mission. “There’s a right way to retire our flags – both national and state," she explains.

To that end, she has personally gathered over 300 worn and tattered flags from businesses, homes, schools - anywhere and everywhere - and lovingly saved them for proper disposal.

At this first ceremony at Flag Pole Hill, she wanted to make sure folks fully grasped the importance of the American Flag and its roots.

In keeping with the ceremony, she chose to dress resplendently, as Betsy Ross might have, along with the Sons of the American Revolution who participated in the ceremony.

Prasifka addressed the crowd.

“On this occasion we ask all of our special guests, volunteers and everyone who’s attended, to be a part of a very special ritual."

"We’re hopeful, too, that we can educate our citizens about proper flag etiquette."

Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the Pledge to the Texas Flag, Tom Whitelock of the Sons of the American Revolution, gave a brief speech with a bit of history noting that, "on June 14th, 1777, our Flag was born.”

District 10 Councilman Jerry Allen then spoke and lauded the efforts of Jeanette and all attendees.

“I am humbled by the people who have fought for our flag," he said. "We will remain the land of the free only as long as we are the nation of the brave.”

Reverend Kevin Martin, of St. Matthews Episcopal Church, followed with the blessing.

Hebron ROTC established the colors, as the seven members of the Lone Star Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America fired three volleys of seven – also known as the 21 Gun Salute.

Mr. Larry Quave of Buglers Across America finalized the ceremony with a stirring rendition of Taps.

At that point, flags were cut and burned.

In previous years Prasifka has led a flag retirement ceremony at the State Fair of Texas.

In initiating this year's inaugural ceremony at Flag Pole Hill, it will now become a bi-annual event on two very appropriate days: Flag Day in June and Veteran’s Day in November.

Prasifka is hopeful that along with the event's sponsors, the Betsy Ross Flag Company and Teco Metal Boxes, other supporters will jump on board.

She hopes to create a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation for this all-important work.

For more information about how to retire an old flags or to learn more about future events, readers can get in touch with Prasifka through the website at http://www.oldwornflag.com.

© 2009 LH Today, LLC