BY SARAH GREGORY
In honor of Flag Day on Friday, a formal flag retirement ceremony was held at the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery.
Prior to the afternoon ceremony, Park Ranger Burke Greear gave a brief program before an audience of approximately a dozen.
Greear outlined information about the American flag, such as the evolution of its design, proper flag etiquette as outlined in the official Flag Code, and instructions on the proper retirement of a flag.
Members of Boy Scout Troop 99, Cub Scout Pack 99, and Girl Scout Troop 214 participated in the program and flag retirement ceremony.
American Legion Post #64 Commander Grady Barefield also participated as a representative of Greeneville and Greene County's veteran organizations.
In a flag retirement conducted according to Flag Code standards, the blue field of stars is separated from the red and white stripes.
The stripes are then separated and grouped together by color.
The pieces are then placed in a fire in a manner that, Greear said, "releases its spirit so that it can continue to serve us through the courage, sacrifice, and freedom that it will always represent."
Through the ceremony, Greear described the symbolism behind each of the colors by reciting a poem, titled For I Am Your Flag, which says:
* "My red stripes symbolize the blood spilled in defense of the glorious nation;"
* "My white stripes signify the burning tears shed by Americans who have lost their sons and daughters;" and,
* "My blue field is indicative of God's heaven under which I fly. My Stars, clustered together, unify 50 states as one, for life and liberty."
As the pieces were put in the flames, the ceremony's participants and audience stood in salute.