This past Tuesday, June 14 marked the 239th Flag Day in the United States. Both the Grayson County Senior Center and the American Legion honored the day, which marked both the adoption of the United States flag and the 241st birthday of the United States Army.
At 10 a.m. at the Grayson County Senior’s Center, a small group of seniors, dressed in red, white, and blue skirts and hats were led by David Rose, who was dressed up as Uncle Sam, outside at the flag pole Tuesday morning.
Rose, a war veteran, led the ceremony after he bought the flag for the center to replace their tattered one.
The seniors gathered around the flag pole in the sweltering heat, lining up behind the center’s sign, placing their hands over their hearts as they stated the pledge of allegiance. After this, Rose spoke a few words about Flag Day and the army’s birthday, instructing them to place a hand over their hearts and for veterans to salute as he switched out flags.
After this, Vietnam veteran Jim Irving read “I Am Old Glory” by Master Sergeant Percy Webb, USMC and “The Ragged Ole Flag” by Johnny Cash, his voice choking on the words.
“I get emotional over patriotic things,” said Irving after the ceremony.
The ceremony then concluded with “The Star Spangled Banner” by Pauline Logsdon and shouts of “God Bless America!” from the crowd.
The Senior Center welcomes more Grayson County seniors to come to their center and the center’s events.
“There’s a lot of seniors in this county that don’t know we’re here,” Fentress said, who hopes, along with volunteer Candy Kinser, that more Grayson County seniors would utilize the center, which provides daily meals, bingo, and short field trips.
“I love this place, it’s a great place to stay. We have fun here,” said Angela Forsythe-Sulli, one of the senior citizens that comes to the Grayson County Senior Center.
Later on that evening at 6 p.m. with thunder clouds still looming, the American Legion held their annual Flag Day ceremony to burn the old flags in Grayson County.
“We collect the flags from the county, a lot of flags from the cemeteries, schools, homes, even some factories bring it in,” said Shane Thomason, the Senior Commander and Iraqi war veteran.
Among the flags to be burned were flags taken from graveyards on Memorial Day when the American Legion, with the help of the Boy Scouts, replaced the flags on veterans’ graves.
Thomason said 3,600 of the flags burned on Flag Day came from 144 cemeteries in the county, though he believes there could be more. The roster of veterans that the American Legion keeps for Memorial Day and other events can be added on by families at any time.
“There’s probably thousands of flags there,” Thomason said, gesturing toward the pile of American flags in the fire pit behind the American Legion building.
A small crowd of about 10 people came to observe the ceremony, the usual crowd kept away by rain.
“We still have to do it, rain or shine,” said Thomason as he began the ceremony.
The inspection of the flag was performed by 1st Vice Commander Mickey Kipper and Sergeant of Arms Denny Ray Clemons. Upon passing the inspection, Clemons draped the flag over the pile. He then lit the pile afire and the officers stood in a salute as the flags burst slowly into flames.
As the flags were quickly consumed with flames and the salute was dropped, the sun peeked out long enough to lighten the vanishing red, white, and blue and the dark smoke billowing through the trees, ending the Flag Day ritual for another year.