Old Glory raises sense of loyalty, patriotism

By Staff Sgt. James M. Hodgman, 55th Wing Public Affairs
Published: Friday, June 19, 2009 4:21 PM CDT
A sense of patriotism fills the air. Songs of America's armed forces are sung with pride. Twenty-six American flags are carefully raised high. Today is all about paying respect to a symbol of freedom and valor; it's about honoring Old Glory.

Several members of Team Offutt paid tribute to the U.S. flag during Offutt's Flag Day ceremony June 12 at the parade grounds.

During the observance, a 78-member detail raised 26 flags simultaneously. After the flags were raised, the Sarpy Singers, a local barbershop chorus sang the national anthem.

The Sarpy Singers also sang numerous other patriotic songs and hymns throughout the ceremony including "O' Beautiful," "Glory, Glory Hallelujah," "His Truth is Marching On," and the songs of each branch of the U.S. military. The ceremony also consisted of patriotic readings.

Col. John N.T. Shanahan, 55th Wing commander, said it's important to have ceremonies like Flag Day.

"We need a ceremony like this every once in a while to remind us that the flag is a symbol of our nation, its people, freedom and all those who served in our armed forces to defend it," Shanahan said.

"The United States flag has been flown in every war our great nation ever fought, it's a constant reminder of how important freedom is and honors those who made the ultimate sacrifice to achieve it; as well as those who serve today still fighting for it."

Master Sgt. Eddie. J. Walton, the first sergeant for the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was the master of ceremony for Offutt's Flag Day observance and began the festivities by welcoming those in attendance. He also led the flag detail, and with his order of sound reveille, all flags were raised.

Walton shared his vision of how vital it is to continue this military tradition.

"The flag ceremony is a time-honored military tradition, every morning we raise our flag, we signify the start of our duty day and reflect upon the men and women who bravely died for our country, so that we may have another day of freedom," Walton said. "Whether we are at war or in peace, there will always be brave American Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers and Marines to ensure our flag endures and proudly waves on high."

One Airman who was a part of the ceremonial flag detail said she has a heightened sense of patriotism after taking part in the event.

"The flag means a lot to me," said Airman 1st Class Jennifer N. Santos, a knowledge operator with the 55th Maintenance Squadron and a member of the Offutt Honor Guard. "Our flag stands for freedom, our nation, the American people and our nation's ideals."

According to Santos, all Airmen should pay tribute to Old Glory every day, not just on Flag Day.

"Our flag and our military have gone through so much and it's an honor to serve in the military, because there are people who can't serve," Santos said. "Since we are serving for the United States, we all contribute to the freedoms we enjoy and therefore, we should honor our flag and everything it stands for."

The first Flag Day observance was held June 14, 1877, the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the Stars and Stripes. Years later, several states continued to observe the anniversary and in 1949 Congress designated June 14 as Flag Day.

Offutt's ceremony marked the 60th anniversary of Flag Day.

Tech. Sgt. Toya R. Stone, the non-commissioned officer in charge of Milstar operations with the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron said the was honored to be part of the ceremony.

"I was moved by the great poems and the Sarpy Serenaders,” Stone said. "Our flag symbolizes our American history and freedom, as well as the people of America; when it flies its free just like us."

For more information about Flag Day, visit http://www.usflag.org.