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June 13. 2013 10:22PM

For veterans and others, Flag Day is all about respect


An American flag adorns a gravesite at the New Hampshire Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Today is Flag Day, and whether folks mark the day by wearing patriotic colors, or attending one of many ceremonies being held around the state, one of the state’s top American Legion officials has just one request.

“Pay the American flag the respect it deserves,” said Daniel Yoder, Department Adjutant for the New Hampshire American Legion. “The flag should be an inspiration to all Americans, and let’s not forget what it represents — the sacrifices made by so many to protect and preserve the freedom we enjoy today.”

Flag Day marks the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of June 14, 1777, when the founding fathers established the national flag, with its basic configuration of stars and stripes. As a holiday, Flag Day didn’t really take hold until 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson issued an official proclamation. In 1949, Congress made June 14 the official National Flag Day.

“Flag Day is America’s Day,” said Yoder. “We’re not just honoring the flag of our great country, but also what it symbolizes. We are honoring freedom. The freedom to worship as we please, to speak as we please and to vote as we please. We honor the hardworking men and women who have made this the greatest and most successful country the planet has ever known. The flag is the symbol of our country, and deserves the respect of all Americans. We should cherish it.”

According to the American Legion website, the colors of the flag are explained as follows: “the red is for valor, zeal and fervency; the white, for hope, purity, cleanliness of life and conduct; and the blue, the color of heaven, for reverence for God, loyalty, sincerity, justice and truth.”

Flag Day is more than just spotlighting the Stars and Stripes. It also stresses the importance of properly disposing of a flag when the time comes. American Legion groups around the region have held or will hold special flag-burning ceremonies to dispose of flags that become tattered, torn or worn.

“People bring in their tattered flags all through the year,” said Greg Clarke, service officer of American Legion Post 79 in Manchester. “We dispose of it in the proper manner.”

American Legion Post 37 in Hooksett will hold a special ceremony at 6 p.m. today at 5 Riverside Street. A similar ceremony was held at the Sweeney Post in Manchester Monday evening, featuring a barbeque and concert by the 39th Army Band alumni.

Some of today’s other Flag Day events include one in Rochester, where the officers of the Elks Lodge 1393 will conduct a ceremony at the Function Hall at 6 p.m. Among the groups taking part are local Boy Scouts, American Legion Post 7, and the Rochester Historical Society. The guest speaker will be a military representative from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. AMVETS Post 1 will present awards to winners of their Americanism Program. Light refreshments will be served following the ceremony.

In Franklin, a Flag Day event will be combined with a Father’s Day luncheon at the TRIP Center at 11 a.m., scheduled to include a barbecue.

In Littleton at the Food Co-op, a flag raising ceremony will be held at noon outside at the new flag pole. All are welcome, and veterans will receive 10 percent off their purchases today.

In Derry, American Legion Post 27, located at 6 Sargent Road, will honor Flag Day with a ceremony at 7 p.m. at the post home. Attendees are invited to bring any unwanted, old, tattered flags to the post to be properly destroyed. The public is welcome to attend. A similar flag disposal ceremony will be held at Post 63 in Salem on Saturday. All American flags that have become worn or faded will be destroyed in a respectful manner by the Ernest W. Young Post, 38 Millville St., at 10 a.m. Members of all veterans organizations, the military and the community are invited to participate. Anyone wishing to dispose of an old flag may bring it to the ceremony or call Enrico Casaletto at 898-1150.

In Keene, a ceremony recognizing the importance of Flag Day is tonight from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Central Square. The ceremony is sponsored by Keene Elks No. 927, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 799, American Legion Post 4 and Keene Emblem Club No. 24.

There are also two political events related to Flag Day scheduled. The Souhegan Valley Republican Women will hold a Flag Day Luncheon today at 11:30 a.m. at The Mile Away Restaurant in Milford, with keynote speaker NH GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn. The Manchester Democrats will hold the Annual Flag Day Dinner tonight at 6, honoring Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, with special guest Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH.

“It’s not like a lot of other holidays,” said Yoder. “Most people don’t take the day off from work, and it doesn’t always get noticed. I hope this year people will stop and think about what the flag stand for, and pay it some respect.”

pfeely@unionleader.com


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