Fort McHenry Composite Squadron Celebrates Flag Day with a Flag Retirement Ceremony PDF Print E-mail
Written by Will Kool   
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 00:00

CATONSVILLE, MD – On Tuesday, June 14, 2011 members of the Ft. McHenry Composition Squadron conducted a flag retirement ceremony in celebration of Flag Day outside the Catonsville National Guard Armory during their weekly meeting. Even though most members were aware that respectful burning is the proper way of disposing old and worn flags, very few have ever performed or witnessed the procedure. Afterwards, comments indicated that members had a deeper appreciation for the symbolism and meaning of the flag, and experienced feelings of honor, respect, humility, and reverence.

The ceremony was planned and organized by Major Sherry McManus, which began with the senior and cadet flights forming together as a squadron. The program included the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, an invocation by Chaplain Gus Peters, and a reflective tribute read in sections by about 15 different cadets and senior members. A cadet detail cut the flag into prescribed sections, and placed them on a contained fire. After the squadron was dismissed to resume activities of the regular meeting, additional flags were retired throughout the evening.

Three teenage members of the community riding by on their bicycles became interested and paused to observe the procedure, and were informed about what they were witnessing. They were invited into the armory where they received a briefing about Civil Air Patrol, and were excited to take membership applications home with them. Later, water was used to extinguish the smoldering embers, and the ashes were collected for burial. A safety plan was prepared and implemented, which included notifying the local fire department prior to the event, having a fire extinguisher available, and a senior member present the entire time.

Although not designated an official federal holiday, the president traditionally issues a proclamation requesting that citizens fly the flag during the Flag Week. Flag Day was established by a proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and commemorates the adoption of the flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Although certain government, military, and private organizations had their own customs and procedures, there were no federal or state regulations concerning display or handling of the United States Flag until June 14, 1923 when the National Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference. The code states that, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 61,000 members nationwide. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and was credited by the AFRCC with saving 113 lives in fiscal year 2010.

Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the more than 26,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 69 years. It is the largest sponsor annually of Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. For more information on the Civil Air Patrol, visit or

There are more than 1,500 members of CAP in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 42 search and rescue missions and were credited with 31 finds. For more information about the CAP, visit


The Fort McHenry Composite Squadron meets weekly at 7:00 pm on Tuesday evenings at the Witte Armory, 130 Mellor Avenue in Catonsville, Md. Prospective members are always welcome. For more information or directions, visit the squadron website at

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 01:46
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