“United States Federal Law provides that, The Flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” (36 U.S.C. 176(k))
On a week ending with heavy rains and constant clouds the sky opened up with seemingly Divine intervention long enough for the Color Guard of the General Society of the War of 1812 in the State of Iowa to join with citizens, guests, and active members of the Des Moines Park and Recreation Department to perform the sacred duties of retiring nearly 2700 un-serviceable American flags.
Utilizing the materials built by GSW 1812 Iowa Past President Louie Zenti and a special forged tool, hand made by a veteran in Michigan and supplied by Ganesh Ganpat; GSW 1812 Iowa President Mike Rowley open the ceremony with borrowed passages from the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War when he stated,
“We have presented here these flags of our country which have been inspected and condemned as un-serviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love.
A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of the finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great: but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol that our dear country stands for; a free nation of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, and devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy.
It represents all that our brothers and sisters and our nation’s defenders in all conflicts lived for, sacrificed for and died for.
Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places taken by bright new flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier, sailor or airmen and women dead be unhonored and unmarked.”
Special thanks to Hannah Champeau, Field Coordinator and Ganesh Ganpat, Supervisor , of Des Moines Park and Recreation for their assistance without which the program would not have been possible.
photos by Mary Rowley