Heat radiated from the six-foot pit where old, tattered flags found their final resting place.
Flag Day in Angelina County had two large celebrations to remind locals of the history and meaning behind Old Glory.
Starting at 11 a.m. Friday, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1836 partnered with the Angelina County Farmers Market to provide a community celebration of the flag and to allow anyone to retire their worn out flags.
VFW Quartermaster Joe Wolf pointed out how, through the many flags he folded in the preceding weeks, in even the most worn out flags were held together by the blue. This represented to him, a sign that the union will never wear down, despite any other damage that may ensue, he said.
“So as a matter of respect and honor for the flag and ultimately for what it represents there are certain protocol we have for the handling and the care of the flag,” VFW Postmaster Ashley Bratton, said. “Everything from how it’s made, how it’s displayed all the way down to how it is retired. So really it’s just a matter of respect to show through these procedures that we all respect and follow what this flag represents.”
People lined up around the white pavilion where they held the ceremony while Bratton spoke, Wolf sung and three Boy Scouts, Cade Cox, Jacob Tullous and Junior Martinez, folded the flag in the ceremonial fashion.
Following the playing of taps, the veterans began throwing flags on the flames. The fire became so hot many had to keep a distance from pit while they watched their old flags wither.
At 5:30 p.m. veterans filled the Lufkin City Hall lobby while the annual city Flag Day proceedings moved forward. The service began with a prayer by the Rev. Earl Whitaker of the New Church of Lufkin, who prayed for the country, those who serve politically and for the safety of U.S. citizens.
The Lufkin Detachment of the Marine Corps League presented the 13 Folds of the American Flag. Brian Crews lead the folding with three other veterans. Afterwards, Whitaker sang the “Statue of Liberty.”
Mayor Bob Brown asked each of the veterans present to stand, state their name, what branch of the military they served in and when and where they served. Many of this year’s attendees served in Vietnam.
Ricky Gay played taps for the veterans at both celebrations. He close the city’s celebration by playing the ‘’National Anthem.’’