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Dublin Fourth of July ceremony marked with retirement of flag

FlagBurning-webBy SHANNON WATKINS

shannon@southwesttimes.com

 

Ragged grey clouds rolled partway back to reveal a soaring blue sky at Dublin town hall’s Fourth of July ceremony. The event included a disposal by burning of old flags a “50-gun salute” by members of the VFW, renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless the USA.”

“No other nation in the history of the world has enjoyed so much prosperity and happiness. And it is up to us to pass on this legacy to our children,” said Ret. Col. Dallas Cox of VFW Post 1184 during his opening remarks.

He impressed upon the crown the fragility of a democratic state, reminded them of the recent events in Egypt, and even touched upon dark moments in the U.S.’s own democracy, such as the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The Rev. David Hoover said, during the invocational prayer, “We are unique among all of the nations of the world…We are not a military nation, we are not a nation that seeks to conquer and destroy, and to put our rights and dictatorial powers on another, because we are a democratic nation…We are a nation that is manifested on love.”

“I’ve traveled in many places in the world, and people always ask me, what do I like about America,” said Cox, returning to the podium. “My greatest joy is that our intention is to do well. We have no malice towards the world. Our intentions are good. We don’t always execute them well, but our intentions are good.”

Later in the ceremony, the Boy Scout Troop 100’s four representatives retired an American flag in the correct way: by burning it. Flag-burning in other contexts is seen as a gesture of disrespect, but in the retiring of it, the fire is not a degradation but a symbol of purification, according to the ritual.

Scoutmaster Allen McMillan and charter organizational rep Mike Blouse explained the meaning of the flag’s stars, stripes and colors as Eagle Scout C.G. Black and Assistant Scoutmaster Andy Maxie cut a retired flag, made of cotton and slightly discolored with age, into four parts.

According to McMillan and Blouse, the blue star-filled field is never cut in this ceremony, as a token that the union of states should never be broken. The blue field, they said, is the point of honor and was made from a blue cloak belonging to a captain of the Continental Army. The 13 red and white stripes stand for the 13 original colonies, they said; the white originally came from a soldier’s shirt and the red from the petticoat of a patriot’s wife. The stripes, they said, were inspired by the rattlesnake flag the continental fleet ships flew and the Sons of Liberty’s banner.

Each of the four flag pieces were carefully lowered into a fire, contained in a metal barrel.

After the ceremony, K-9 officer Marty Dowdy gave a brief demonstration of the unit’s tactics on the lawn. The dog, a 9-year-old German shepherd, is named Lobo and has been used by the police department for about eight years.

After a Marine reservist appeared at the demonstration area in a thickly-padded “bite suit” for safety, Dowdy role-played a scene as if dealing with a reluctant suspect who wanted to escape. “You, stop fighting my dog!” he said, and explained that as long as a suspect pulled against him, Lobo would experience this as resistance and hang on to him. Lobo is not an attack dog, he explained, but trained to cling on and keep a suspect from getting away.

Lobo also sniffs out contraband and has found in his career, according to Dowdy, $1.5 million in cash, along with “marijuana and guns and bad people, carjackers, you name it.”

Dennis Lambert, Dublin’s new chief of police, was on hand throughout the event and after, giving out cold bottled water and gun locks. “The ceremony was great,” he said. “I thought it was remarkably well-attended considering the weather.”