GREENVILLE — Representatives from the Darke County Visitors Bureau and Darke County Veterans Services were present for the hanging of a new American flag and the retiring of an old one at the county fairgrounds Tuesday morning.
Also present was Richard Kiser, a concerned veteran from the community who was the first to initiate proceedings to obtain a new flag.
“Last year during the fair, Mr. Kiser came to me and asked, ‘What can we do about the old American flag?’” said Charles Anthony, a volunteer at the Darke County Visitors Bureau. “So I contacted State Representative Jim Buchy, and he said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ It’s been a year-long process, but it’s all because of Mr. Kiser.”
Almost a year after contacting Buchy, the Visitors Bureau received an American and an Ohio flag, both of which had formerly flown over the Ohio State Capitol Building in Columbus.The flags were hung from rafters above the center aisle of the coliseum at the county fairgrounds yesterday morning.
“Everything just fell into place,” said Anthony.
Workers placing the two flags were careful to follow traditional procedures, such as situating the American flag to the right of its Ohio counterpart, from the perspective of observers entering the coliseum, and not allowing it to be overshadowed by other flags. The coliseum’s former flag was also accorded respect.
“The old flag,” said Anthony, “will be turned over to the American Legion for a proper flag-burning ceremony. You cannot wash an American flag, and if it gets dirty or frayed, it must be destroyed by burning.”
The American Legion’s website specifies that the organization adopted a ceremony for the disposal of unserviceable flags in 1937. The ceremony involves members of the post charged with disposing of the flag assembling outdoors, at night. Officers recite a lengthy script, followed by members of the honor guard assembling and the chaplain saying a brief prayer. The flag is then dipped in kerosene and burned.
Also present for the raising of the flag was Thomas Pitman, department head of Darke County Veterans Services. Pitman was approached by members of the Visitors Bureau to represent Darke County’s veterans during the ceremony, along with Mr. Kiser. He will turn over the old flag to American Legion Post #140 in Greenville for proper disposal.
Pitman said the hanging of the new flag was a special moment for the county’s veterans.
“When someone walks in the coliseum,” said Pitman, “and they see the prominence of the American flag, it kind of symbolizes what all the veterans did to make things like this possible.”