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American Flag Retirement Ceremony Held in Charlotte

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C/Maj Dylan Gulla, Cadet Commander of the 111th, renders a proper hand salute after delivering a retired flag to the flaming cauldron as part of the Flag Retirement Ceremony. Photo Credit: 1st Lt H.J. Bentley III, CAP (click image to view full size)
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111th Search and Rescue Cadet Squadron holds moving ceremony

6/5/2019––The North Carolina Wing's 111th Search and Rescue Cadet Squadron, located at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, conducted an American Flag Retirement Ceremony on Thursday evening 30 May 2019. The ceremony was marked by respectful simplicity as individuals carried a neatly folded flag to be burned, signifying a proper retirement in a flaming farewell. Each flag was embraced in the arms of the bearers - cadets, veterans and civilians alike. Like veteran soldiers whose lives have come to an end, the flags had served faithfully, eventually wearing thin, becoming tattered and finally yielding to the elements.

“For more than 200 years, the American Flag has been a symbol of strength and unity,” said C/Maj Dylan Gulla, Cadet Commander for the 111th, who was the master of ceremonies. “These flags have been a source of pride and inspiration for citizens of North Carolina. And now it’s time to give them the rest they’ve earned.”
Retiring the American flag is a very specific process and the Civil Air Patrol cadets worked together to cut the flags properly and then burn them. "The flag represents our land, our people and our democratic ideals in three colors: red, white and blue. With red representing courage, white representing purity and blue representing heaven," added Cadet Gulla.
“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,” according to the United States Code for retiring a flag. Flag etiquette requires that when worn and tattered beyond economical repair, the most iconic symbol of freedom should not just be tossed aside. “When a flag is so worn, it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country,” Cadet Gulla said, “it should be destroyed by burning it in a dignified manner.”
As the flag, folded in its customary triangle, is placed on the fire, it is customary for those in attendance to salute, say the pledge of allegiance or have a brief period of silent reflection.
“We’ve been blessed because many in the Charlotte area have given us their flags for retirement,” said NC-111 Commander Maj Sherry Haskell. Also on hand was Charlotte Mecklenburg Aviation Police Officer Scott Svancarek. Not only did Svancarek provide several flags for retirement from the CMPD, but he also participated in the ceremony. “It was a privilege and honor to have assisted in this retirement ceremony and it was the first I’ve ever seen,” said Officer Svancarek.
Approximately 300 flags were retired during the ceremony, but Maj Haskell said many more still need to be retired. More than 75 visitors watched the reverent and somber ceremony.  
To finalize the ceremony, the ashes will be buried with ashes from flags retired in past years ceremonies.