Flag Day offers time to honor vets

By Bryan Richardson

More than 30 people and one dog gathered for Flag Day on Saturday morning in front of City Hall.

The dog — Cisco, a 14-month-old boxer — was with Joyce and Joe Latimer.

“(Joe) is a vet, so we decided to come out for Flag Day,” Joyce said. “We put our flag out first thing this morning, so we had plenty of time to get here.”

Joyce said Saturday had additional importance.

“Well, it’s the birth of the Army,” she said.

June 14 was both Flag Day, the day in 1777 when Congress adopted the United States flag, and the birthday of the Army, founded on that day in 1775.

During the Flag Day ceremony, attendees watched the last flight of the old flags, and the first of the new flags replacing them.

In front of City Hall, the U.S. flag, POW/MIA flag, Kansas flag and city flag waved when the wind picked up.

Terri Sutton and Karla Johnson, members of the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition and local Disabled American Veterans (DAV) chapter, were among those on flag duty.

“It’s very important,” Sutton said. “It shows the American flag. It shows our freedom. It shows how we served our country for that freedom.”

Johnson said the ceremony was also intended to increase awareness of Peace Memorial Auditorium after a push about a year ago to stop the stage’s removal.

The city commission decided June 3 that the stage could stay at the auditorium, and community members would have to raise money for renovations.

A younger Johnson, Colton, 11, also helped with the flag raising.

Colton, who learned the skill through the DAV Junior program, said the event was “pretty cool.”

“It’s just a special day for the flags,” he said.

Mayor Wynn Butler said the ceremony raised knowledge about veterans and the memorial.

He said he wants this to be an annual event.

“For one thing, the flags needed to be retired,” Butler said. “There were looking sort of ragged.”

The genesis of the ceremony started when Stormy Kennedy, owner of Claflin Books and Copies, came to a Flint Hills Veterans Coalition meeting and asked whether anybody wanted to take up this project.

“It’s nice to have a community where people think this is important,” Kennedy said.

She said her husband, George, served during the Vietnam War. Her father served in World War II. Her brother served in Vietnam.

“Serving your community and serving your country is kind of important to me,” Kennedy said.

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