Marines retire 1,000 flags from service in ceremony
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    Exclamation Marines retire 1,000 flags from service in ceremony

    Marines retire 1,000 flags from service in ceremony
    By Joseph Cress, Sentinel Reporter, October 5, 2008

    Last updated: Sunday, October 5, 2008 12:07 AM EDT
    The color may be faded; the cloth torn and tattered.

    Old Glory had seen better days flying high over a schoolyard or keeping vigil by a grave.

    Dozens of local residents gathered under cloudy skies Saturday to pay respect for a beloved symbol.

    They came together in a field in Thornwald Park to offer up last rites for about 1,000 unserviceable flags.

    The Lewis Puller Jr. Detachment 524 of the Marine Corps League hosted the retirement ceremony in Carlisle.

    The grass in front of the burn bin was piled with bags and boxes of flags from across Cumberland County.

    A few others were draped across a metal framework, ready to be destroyed by flame after the last echo of Taps.

    “A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of the finest silk,” Commandant Jim Reed told the audience.

    “It’s intrinsic value may be trifling or great,” he added. “But its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked, lived and died for.”

    Robert Gerard, 78, of Carlisle stood by and watched. A retired Army colonel, he served 31 years including a stint in Korea and tour tours of duty in Vietnam.

    “We need to be reminded periodically of what the flag means,” Gerard said. “This ceremony is of special importance for the civilian community, in particular the young people. It shows appreciation for our country and its heritage.”

    Doris Hostetter, 72, of Newville waited for her son Alan Hostetter to come over. A Marine Corps veteran from 1981 to 1984, he is detachment sergeant-at-arms and had a key role to play in the ceremony.

    “This is very patriotic,” she said. “It shows pride in our flag and what it stands for. We often take it for granted.” James Ross, 47, of Newville came in support of a friend who sang the National Anthem. A retired chief petty officer with the Coast Guard, he understood the significance of the ceremony.

    “You don’t just treat the flag any old way,” he explained. “You do it properly.”

    Guest speaker retired Army Col. George Shevlin grew up learning the importance of patriotism and national pride. He served 26 years in the military, including two tours of combat duty in Vietnam.

    “The flag we have today is the most recognized and honored in the world,” Shevlin said. “It has been an inspiration for those who have gone into battle with her and a beacon of the world’s freedom. To oppressed people, she is the banner of their rescuers.”


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