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  • A respectful burning of flags

    When I go on an assignment, I’m usually there to observe. I go to take photographs, gather quotes from participants and watch as the event unfolds.

    The flag retirement ceremony Nov. 8 was different. After the Scouts had the opportunity to carry the flags to the burn bin for retirement, guests were invited to bring out one of the more than 300 flags outside Holy Spirit School in Annandale. Knight of Columbus Bob Rose invited me to carry a flag. I was honored and grateful for the opportunity. I have never seen a flag retirement. It is was a beautiful ceremony.

    Participants carry a tri-folded flag, such as when a flag is presented to the family of a fallen service member. That lent an even greater solemnity to it.

    I watched the others ahead of me receive their flags. They opened their arms, received the flag and held it to their chests with their arms crossed.

    I considered the one I was holding and wonder where it might have flown. Was it at the house of someone in the military? Was it perhaps at a family home where small children saw it fly every day?

    With each flag that was retired, the fire burned hotter and higher. I thought of the contrast of a respectable retirement in the fire with those accompanied by protest and hatred.

    I pray for those military men and women who served and are serving to keep us safe and free.  

    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

    @Elizabeth A. Elliott