GF student leads flag retirement ceremony

Friday, October 24, 2014
Burning a flag is not always an act of disrespect. After disassembling a United States flag by cutting apart the stripes and keeping the field of stars intact, the individual elements are retired by burning. (David Bell/Carroll County News)

Green Forest High School freshman Edward Herndon saw his first flag retirement ceremony on the History Channel. On Thursday, he oversaw his second.

GFHS Terry Darnell kicked off the ceremony, explaining that he had asked Herndon to take down the flags at the end of each school day. After seeing a special on the History Channel about flag maintenance, Herndon informed Darnell that the school's flags were torn and needed to be retired.

"He told me about things I'm proud were brought to my attention," Darnell said.

Those things included the standards for flag upkeep and the proper way to retire a flag, which Herndon demonstrated at the ceremony Thursday afternoon.

Herndon spoke after Darnell, asking the veterans in the audience to stand. Three Green Forest veterans -- Mayor Charles Reece, Green Forest Police Department Sgt. Gaylon Riggs and teacher Johnny Elmore -- were in attendance, and there were several empty seats symbolizing those veterans who could not be there because of disability or death.

"Know that these flags served well and honorably," Herndon said to the veterans.

After his speech, Herndon helped two classmates cut the flag. They began by cutting the stars away from the flag. Then, they cut each stripe separately, burning the individual stripes after cutting them. They burned the stars last.

Herndon led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance while the flag burned. Once the ceremony ended, he awarded the grommets from the flag to the three veterans in attendance.

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