By Brian Livingston
Whenever the American Flag becomes tattered or worn, it should be destroyed in a manner befitting the national banner of a nation with dignity and reverence.
In the case of the Stars and Stripes, many organizations, such as the Knights of Columbus, have taken upon themselves the correct disposal of the flag while at the same time using the ceremony to teach the younger generations about the respect that it has earned while flying over the battlefields Americans have fought throughout history.
"We have been doing this for many years," said John Bennett, a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 802 in Meridian. "We take this very seriously."
Thursday morning members of the KofC were asked to retire an American Flag that has flown in front of Community Bank on 22nd Avenue South. Bob Huff, president of Community Bank, asked the organization to do the honors.
"We change the flag out frequently so we always have a crisp, vibrant flag flying for everyone to see," Huff said. "We asked the Knights of Columbus to do this for us because we want it done correctly."
According to American Flag etiquette, if the edges become tattered through wear, or if the flag should become damaged, faded or torn through use, the flag should be repaired or replaced. When a flag is so tattered that it can no longer serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. The KofC, and other organizations such as The American Legion, regularly conduct flag retirement ceremonies, often on Flag Day, June 14. Bennett said they have had hundreds of flags to retire at any one time.
With members of the KofC standing at attention, Bennett and another member of the council slowly lowered the faded version and replaced it with the new banner that rose and flapped briskly in the north wind. With the old flag folded neatly, it will be kept at the KofC council until it can be burned properly.
"Most of the members here are veterans so they hold the American Flag in the highest regard," Bennett said. "All Americans should show the flag the same amount of respect. It represents the greatest country in the world."
The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded by the Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1882, it was named in honor of the navigator Christopher Columbus.
By Brian Livingston
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