Cape honors stars and stripes on Flag Day
Since 1916 Americans have celebrated Flag Day to honor the stars and stripes of Old Glory.
Sunday marked the 93rd year that Americans have celebrated Flag Day by hanging flags and properly disposing of ones that have grown old or tattered. Disposing of a flag should only be done within an official retirement ceremony where it’s put into a triangular fold and burned.
Metz Funeral Home, on 1306 Lafayette St., opened their doors to retiring flags for the first time on Sunday morning.
Timothy Hauck, funeral director, said that over 50 flags were collected from the community in the first hour. Officials from the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars came to the funeral home at noon to commence the official retirement ceremony.
Hauck said the cremation of the flags wouldn’t occur until Monday.
“It’s a good turnout and we still have an hour to go,” he said. “This is our first time. We were impressed with the turnout but I didn’t know what to expect.”
Because the city doesn’t have many locations for retiring a flag, Hauck said that staff from the funeral home decided to organize a Flag Day event.
“We kind of thought to ourselves, not much is happening on Flag Day – we thought, let’s give it a shot and see what we can do,” said Hauck.
Cape Coral residents who turned over their old flags on Sunday were handed a brand new flag to hang in their homes or yard. Volunteers at the funeral home said the retired flags ranged in condition from lightly faded to ripped in pieces.
E. Howard Smith and his wife, Shirley, dropped off a unique flag with 48 stars. It once belonged to his father who died in 1960.
“At breakfast, we figured it was from somewhere between 1948 and 1952,” said Smith. “There aren’t many out there.”
The American flag has always brandished 13 horizontal squares alternating red and white, but before Alaska and Hawaii were added as states, it only had 48 stars from 1912 to 1959.
The original U.S. flag, reportedly sewn by Betsy Ross in 1776, had only 13 stars to represent each of the American colonies.
Smith said the flag hadn’t been used in years and that no museums or historical societies had wanted it.
“If you could see it when we opened it, it hasn’t been used in the last 25 years,” he said.
Larry and Eileen Herbst portrayed “Uncle Sam” and “Betsy Ross” at the funeral home. They collected flags and assisted with the organizing of the retirement ceremony.
Herbst said that during the event respect was a major consideration.
“Everything has to be done in a specific way and shown all the respect it possibly can,” said Larry Herbst.
Other organizations in Cape Coral went from house-to-house collecting used flags and bringing them to the ceremony.
“Some people went down the block and collected old, used flags,” said Larry Herbst.
Flag Day was celebrated across the United States. President Barack Obama delivered a proclamation declaring June 14 as “Flag Day” and the next five days as “Flag Week.” All federal buildings will display a flag this week and citizens are encouraged to say the Pledge of Allegiance.