The first Old Glory retirement ceremony I attended is an annual event hosted by Boy Scout Troop 386 of New Harmony, Indiana. This year scouts, veterans and civilians gathered to assist with and observe the retirement of a large table-full of U.S. federal flags as well as several Indiana state flags.
It wasn't a sad gathering, but it was carried out in a serious fashion and I was very impressed with the troop's behavior during the ceremony. Having spent most of my growing up years in Posey County, Indiana, I admit to feeling especially proud of these young folks for the attitude of care they displayed in their treatment of the flags and in their roles for the event.
Although several aspects of the ceremony are somber, not all of it is. In fact, Mr. Charlie Hucks of VFW Post 6576 managed to have everyone smiling during his recital of the famous Red Skelton's version of the Pledge of Allegiance. For the younger gens who aren't familiar with the magnificent work of Mr. Skelton, an Indiana native, I've included a little video to help you out. For the older gens who do remember Mr. Skelton, it'll make for a fun few minutes of reminiscing with this adored American patriot.
Another very special aspect of the ceremony was listening to the haunting melody of Taps played by an authentic military bugler.
Mr. Rick Gooden is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and also a member of the awesome not-for-profit group, Bugles Across America.
I've worked with buglers from this group several times in the funeral service industry and each time I've heard one of them play, they've been flawless. They deserve a good bit of recognition for their selfless gift of honoring veterans and attending services of patriot-nature.
These folks will perform live Taps at any honorably discharged veteran's service (or associated gathering) and are usually willing to travel a considerable distance to do so. They provide this at no cost to the family or group that is hosting ceremony.
Thank you for your service, Mr. Gooden, both capacities!
An honors detail of flag-bearers represented by American Legion Post 370 of New Harmony took part in the ceremony as well. This was my second time to view them in a service and they did an excellent job both times. For an American patriot of freedom, it's impossible not to feel a surge of pride and gratuity when these vets fall into formation carrying the flags that represent country, state and military branch.
Putting an event like this together takes time, coordination and cooperation. Tim and Leigh Wiley of New Harmony are the adults at the helm of Troop 386 and they seem perfectly suited for the job.
I enjoyed a visit with them following the ceremony and both strike me as very kind, passionate, and enthusiastic folks who sincerely love working with their community and handling many of the responsibilities for Troop 386.
To share with you some of the highlights of the program, I've put together a slide-show for you to enjoy. If you're a rivers' land local, perhaps you'll see some familiar faces of Posey County's finest.
The day after this ceremony was Veterans' Day 2013 and I met up with some friends at a nearby restaurant for a short get-together over breakfast. When it concluded, I was pleasantly surprised in the parking lot with an unexpected photo opportunity.
In the vehicle, I was getting my bag situated when I saw a sedan pull in and park next to me. The passenger in the front seat was an elderly gentleman who wore a military cover. I didn't want to miss the chance of getting a photo of a vet wearing his cover on Veterans' Day, so I scrambled for my camera and made it to the sedan just as the gentleman got seated into a wheel chair.
I asked if he minded if I took his picture and he said he didn't, but warned me that I might break my camera. I assured him that he looked great and I was certain his pic wouldn't cause my camera any trouble at all.
He allowed his family to gather around and sat patiently and without complaint in the chilly and brisk wind allowing me to get several shots of him. I didn't realize I was taking the pic of someone I knew and admired from many years ago.
When the shots were finished, I passed over my business card and when the introductions began I realized this veteran was my first high school biology teacher at North Posey High School.
His name is Mr. Leonard Mauck, he taught my freshman biology class at North Posey High School in 1979. He's also a WWII veteran. For folks who grew up here, or frequent this area, seeing Mr. Mauck isn't unusual, but for me it was a huge treat that made this year's Veterans' Day even more special. Before I left I told him I worked for his mother for two summers mowing her lawn in Johnson, Indiana. She was a very kind and courteous lady that I have very fond memories of.
I also haven't forgotten the first day of class with Mr. Mauck. He explained that he was a man of science and that he was required by law to teach us the theories of big bang and evolution. However, he was quick to point out that they were both unproven theories and that the more science he learned, the stronger his beliefs in divine creation grew.
Thank you, Mr. Mauck, for your military service as well as sharing your wisdom in regards to creation. I agreed with you then, and I haven't ever stopped.
My thanks to Michele Simmons of the Depot Diner in Griffin, Indiana for the invite to attend the ceremony. It's always a privilege and an honor to be considered and invited to observe such events.
I wish all people could enjoy a heritage and history as rich as I have been blessed with here in the rivers' land. Regarding the traditions here in remembering God and honoring freedom, I extend my appreciation to those who work hard at keeping them alive and well for now, and I pray they'll continue for many years to come.
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