Members of the Lone Grove 4-H Club gathered Thursday evening outside the Lone Grove Fire Department to participate in an American Flag Retirement Ceremony. During the ceremony the flag was disassembled piece by piece before being placed into a fire. All the while, the children took turns reading from a script with lines from the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and other historic quotes from American history.
Gerri Ballard, 4-H youth development extension educator, said 4-H clubs in Carter County have been using this particular ceremony since they learned it at camp in 2006.
“We were taught this particular ceremony by the kids from Bryan County and they had learned it when they went to camp with kids from Stephens County,” Ballard said. “We don’t get to camp with Bryan County any more, so now we’ve introduced it to two new counties. It’s something that keeps getting passed down.”
Ballard said she has a committee that prepares the flag prior to the ceremony. After the committee completed their work, the flag is ready to be easily disassembled piece by piece.
“We carefully take the flag apart. We start with the first stripe, the second stripe, and that’s how the ceremony goes,” Ballard said. “We do not take the stars apart though. We leave the canton — the field of blue — as a union.”
Ballard said she receives the flags from the Carter County Courthouse, and 4-H retired three flags Tuesday. One flag was whole to begin with, and the other two were already taken down to their individual pieces. The pieces were individually bagged and removed from their bags to be placed onto the fire at the correct portion of the ceremony.
Ballard attached the flags’ rings to a wire hanger which she said would be salvaged at the very end of the evening and then given to local veterans.
The ceremony closed with everyone reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in honor of the retired flags. The children then stayed at the Lone Grove Fire Department to learn a lesson in the correct use of fire extinguishers from the fire fighters in honor of Fire Prevention Week which takes place from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12.