Celebrating the Fourth and Honoring the Flag - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Celebrating the Fourth and Honoring the Flag

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The American Flag means many things to many people. 

"It is the symbol of the country. It represents sacrifice. It represents pride" says Jim Wilson of VFW Post 9488 Color Guard.

James Graves, also of the Color Guard at VFW Post 9488, says for him the flag is "honor. Dignity. It's a symbol of freedom."

And as Americans celebrate the country's independence, veterans at VFW Post 9488 in Charlotte marked the day by honoring an old flag.

Captain Terry Beaver of the Color Guard adds "any veteran will tell you this flag represents more than just a piece of cloth. We fought for it, fought under it, bled for it and we would again."

When the flag is no longer fit to be flown - if it's old, faded or torn - veterans say it has to be retired, disposed of with dignity.

"It's not just a retirement of the flag" says Commander Lewis Hunt. "It's a ceremony to remember those have gone. Because the flag does symbolize to a lot of us those we have lost, those who have done their duty and lost. This is our way of remembering what they died for."

 "I kinda have to stop myself from crying when I see it disposed of" says Jim Wilson.

"We treat the flag the same as we would treat a fallen veteran" says Captain Beaver.

 The veterans cut the flag apart, separating the red and white stripes. They also cut away the field of blue with the stars. Once the flag has been cut apart, they burn it during a ceremony.

Captain Beaver says "each part will be burned separately. And when I say burned I don't mean that disrespectfully. It will be retired by fire with respect."

Flag retirement or disposal ceremonies take place year around.

Veterans at VFW Post 9488 say it has become an annual tradition to have a ceremony on the Fourth of July.

"July 4th is our Independence Day" says Commander Hunt. "It's often forgotten as a day off or a day to go to watch fireworks. But it's a day hundreds of years ago when this country decided we would be free no matter what the cost. No matter what it took - that we would be free."

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