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Locals honor the Stars and Stripes

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Donald Weld, left, and Mark Rowland of the Richard G. Whitesell Post 61 of the American Legion salute as a ceremonial flag is prepared for burning during a Saturday flag retirement ceremony held in a park area of First United Methodist Church on North Kentucky Avenue. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

The newly reorganized American Legion Post 61 of Roswell, also known as the Richard G. Whitesell Post 61, held a U.S. flag retirement ceremony Saturday in a park area of the First United Methodist Church on North Kentucky Avenue.

Flags that are torn, worn or faded are never to be thrown away, but instead are to be burned and, ideally, during a formal ceremony, said Post Commander Stephen Lee.

“It’s one thing to just burn them, but it is another thing to burn them with respect and honor,” said Lee. “Most of these flags have flown over local businesses or people’s homes.”

The ceremony also gives people the opportunity to remember their relatives’ service in the military, as donated flags can be retired to the flames in dedication to others.

About seven people gathered for the brief ceremony, which included the National Anthem, a prayer and a folding of the initial ceremonial flag 12 times, with a recitation about the meaning of each fold.

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The people participating in the Saturday ceremony included Lee, first vice chair and chaplain Mark Rowland, second vice chair Donald Weld, veteran James Moore, Rev. Laird Cross of the First United Methodist Church, and auxiliary officers Jenn Lee and Lyze Lee.

American Legion posts traditionally hold one flag ceremony each year, and those usually occur the Saturday after Flag Day, which was June 14, Commander Lee said. This is the first ceremony in a while for Post 61, as it just became operational again in December after having been active in the 1980s and 1990s.

The other American Legion organization in Roswell, Post 28, typically holds its flag retirement ceremony in July.

According to the words spoken during the ceremony, the first fold is in remembrance to life; the second, belief in eternal life; the third, veterans; fourth, the weaker nature of humanity; fifth, the United States; sixth, the allegiance of the heart to the Republic; the seventh, the U.S. armed forces; the eighth, those who have died or risked death for others; the ninth, womanhood; the 10th, fatherhood; the 11th, the Hebrew view of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and the 12th, the Christian view of eternity and of God, the Son and the Holy Ghost.