Veterans Retire Worn Flags - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/14/05

Veterans Retire Worn Flags

Many of our friends and loved ones serve our county in the Middle East, and people across the country are honoring our nation's stars and stripes. Today is Flag Day, and Sun City veterans held a special ceremony in honor of Old Glory.

It was a very patriotic ceremony, and of course it had special meaning for those veterans who served our county and put their lives on the line to keep the American flag flying all these years.

Putting old, rugged flags to rest in this special Flag Day ceremony is a mission Jack Young took on more than nine years ago at Sun City.

"It's a special, special thing to be an American," he said. "I'm very proud of my flag."

But his love for Old Glory dates back more than a half a century, to when he was shot down in Germany during World War II and sent to a prisoner of war camp.

"I was free for maybe two days and finally caught by the Germans," Young recalled. "All in all, I was a POW for 13 months."

As you can imagine, conditions were horrible for this Mighty Eighth Air Force legend, but he says the worst part was having to stare at a swastika every day.

"Every time I looked up there and saw these flags, the Germans up there, and I had my hatred for them obviously and subsequently I said, 'I miss my American flag,'" he said. "And I've stayed that way through many, many years, for the rest of my life."

And by laying damaged and weathered flags to rest, Young says he's fulfilling his pledge to keep the Stars and Stripes sacred, and this annual tradition is something all the Sun City veterans take great pride in.

"I think this is the most honorable thing we can do for our flag," said Don McCovey

But before they hit the flames, veterans took the time to prepare each flag. By separating the standard from the stripes, it makes the flag no longer a flag. And that gave way for a proper farewell for more than 300 flags.

The Sun City Veterans Association has held this special ceremony for nine years.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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