Flag Day 2008

The setting was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a rainy day, and it was June 14, 2008, a Saturday, Flag Day - a time to remember and celebrate our flag and a time to retire from service, many torn and tattered flags that had served their country well.  The onslaught of continuous rain, minimized the quantity of citizens, but in no way, dampened the spirits of those patriots who stood waiting for the ceremonies to begin.  It rained from early in the day until just before the ceremony as if to cleanse all the pollution and impurities from the air and
made pure this occasion that is too often excluded from our calendars. South Park is home to  "By the Dawns Early Light" Flag Retirement Plaza, a one-of-a-kind facility that provides a location for patriotic reflection and
the proper retirement of our nations symbol. Designed with the help of John Kovach, Jr., a former Marine and sergeant first class in the Pennsylvania National Guard, the hexagonal plaza is surrounded by seven flag poles - one for each branch of the military and one for the American flag - with a burn pit in the center. A deposit box on the site allows visitors to leave soiled, damaged and tattered flags to be incinerated during future ceremonies. 

Linda and Jeanie

Presentation of
the colors and POW/MIA Flag followed Linda*&*Jeanie, The Hilltop Singers',
patriotic rendition of their song "Liberty's Bell".  Flags from all branches of the Armed Forces were raised by their representatives.  The National Anthem was sung and the ceremony began. A teacher sang "My Country 'Tis of Thee" while her students signed the song for the audience.  Flags from 48 of the 50 states were presented for retirement.  The presentation of these flags by boy scouts was followed by the flags being gently opened and draped in the pit to be torched by  many elected officials, Brigadeer General Dave Papak, United States Marine Corp, Ambassador Charles Ray - Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Affairs and others. There were many Vietnam Vets in attendance as well as representatives from other eras.  Authors Joyce Faulkner and Pat McGrath Avery gave tribute to Sherman Jones, a Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivor who was also in attendance.  Then a tribute to our fallen heroes included Linda*&*Jeanie's harmonious arrangement of "Only the Name" followed by "Taps" performed a capella.

Flag retirement ceremony

Many badges of courage were represented on this day and it is hoped that
the faded glory of a flag that served it's country well will take on new meaning for the youth of our country.  Perhaps the young people learned the importance of respecting this symbol of our security and freedom. The key is respect. Respect for our flag, and our country.  Respect for others. It is our hope that the Plaza will facilitate the retirement of our nations emblem with the respect and dignity it deserves for years to come.

Ambassador Charles Ray, Linda, John Kovach, Jeanie

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Page updated December 2008