Blue Devil Battalion cadets, pictured left to right, Shakara Martin, Hannah Wilkerson, Caleb Weiler, Christopher Crider and Gracie Snowden worked together to properly retire an unserviceable U.S. flag. [ JENNIFER RICH | THE ADVERTISER ]
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HCHS Blue Devil Battalion gives U.S. flags a proper farewell

The Holmes County High School JROTC Blue Devil Battalion gave close to 80 unserviceable U.S. flags a proper farewell by conducting a Flag Retirement Ceremony Jan. 20.

Students and faculty at the school, as well as the public, were invited to witness the ceremony as donated flags that were too tattered and worn to be in use were disassembled and disposed of per a tradition set by The American Legion in 1937, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

“We thought that the community may have flags to retire and we had a lot of donations, so we decided to make it public and show people how to retire a flag,” said Major Autumn Poulson.

The battalion had already disassembled a large tote full of the donated flags but saved one for the ceremony. The cadets worked together to cut the flag before transferring the pieces to a fire, making sure that the pieces never touch the ground.

“The proper way of disassembling a flag is to cut the stripes away from the Union,” said 1st Sgt. Randy Burlew. “Once all the stripes are cut off, that saves the Union which is the blue part with the stars on it.”

The pieces are then properly disposed of by burning. As the flag pieces made their way to the fire, the cadets presented flag facts to the crowd. With such a large pile of disassembled flag pieces to retire, the spectators were asked to line up and join the cadets in dropping pieces of unserviceable flags into the fire pit.

Burlew said the battalion strives to perform the ceremony once per year and is always collecting donated flags. They will soon have a donation box available for drop off anytime.

“It’s the honorable way. It’s just us trying to pay our respects and continue the tradition,” said Lt. Col. Caleb Weiler.


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