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A day for Old Glory

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE, Colo. -- Senior Airman Brett Steffen, 460th Comptroller Squadron customer service technician, raises the American flag at the 460th Space Wing Headquarters building.  Steffen raises and lowers the flag for ceremonies, weather and other occasions all while paying Old Glory the proper respects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

Senior Airman Brett Steffen, 460th Comptroller Squadron customer service technician, raises the American flag at the 460th Space Wing Headquarters building. Steffen raises and lowers the flag for ceremonies, weather and other occasions all while paying Old Glory the proper respects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Buckley will celebrate Flag Day, June 14, by showing its respect to the national emblem that was adopted 235 years ago.

The American flag, sewn by Betsy Ross, has seen multiple iterations and designs throughout its history. However, the care and respect of the flag has remained constant and paramount.

The handling of Old Glory is governed by the National Flag Code, while the military follows additional customs and courtesies that are laid down by their respective services. Buckley uses honor guard demonstrations and wing retreat ceremonies as opportunities to display the proper respect toward our nation's colors.

The Air Force follows Air Force Manual 36-2203, Drill and Ceremonies, said Tech. Sgt. Scot Tardiff, 460th Space Wing information management technician and an honor guard member for two and a half years. However, this manual is not the only reason Tardiff takes such care when handling the American flag.

"The flag represents liberty," said Tardiff. "The flag is the reason that I do what I do. To show disrespect to the flag is to show disrespect to the nation," continued the honor guard veteran, reiterating the importance of paying proper respect to the flag.

Eventually a flag will become worn by the weather and need to be retired. The National Flag Code states: the flag, when it's in such a condition, it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. Individuals may hold their own flag retirement ceremonies or donate their worn flags to an organization that will retire Old Glory for them.

One of the many organizations that help individuals with flag retirement is The Enlisted Association, who recently held a flag retirement ceremony.

"We had gathered flags for the last two years," said Roger L. Tackitt, the local chapter president. "We had about 200 flags for the ceremony."

The ceremony consisted of first an invocation and then the pledge of allegiance, recounted Tackitt. Then there was an explanation of the meaning behind the stars and the stripes, followed by the cutting of the individual stripes out of the field. Those stripes were then lowered into the flames until the whole flag was burned to ash. From there, the grommets were removed and final respects were paid to the memory of the retired American flag, explained Tackitt proudly.

As the next generation grows to take the place of the last, both men agree respect for our nation's colors needs to be passed on and continued.

Attending flag ceremonies or getting involved with them, all while observing the customs and courtesies being rendered there, are great ways for others to learn the proper respect for our national emblem, cited Tardiff.

The most important thing to pass on to future generations is a respect for the nation and the flag for which it stands, said Tackitt.
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