INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis’ VFW Post 2839 retired more than 50 flags Sunday for its third annual flag retirement and burning ceremony.
The veterans and volunteers brought flags that were worn, discolored and no longer fit to be flown. They then respectfully set each one into the fire to symbolize a new beginning.
“We respectfully retire them so we can teach a lesson to our younger generation that other people have sacrificed for that flag,” Sgt. Mark Doolittle said. “The soul of that flag is being released and it is being replaced by a new one.”
Each flag is carefully folded into a triangle, holding a special meaning for the men and women who served.
Patrick Mann, Commander for VFW District 11, said the flag is more than a piece of cloth.
“When asked, someone always swore allegiance to it. Forsaken other cloths like it. When asked to carry it into battle, someone always said 'I will.' When asked to defend or possibly even die for it, people said 'I will.' So my question for you is, who is going to remember all those who said 'I will.' I know I will,” Mann said.
Thomas Rohleder is one of those veterans who will also say “I will.” He served 22 years with the Marines and lost both his leg and arm overseas.
That’s why when he noticed a tattered and torn flag outside a hotel in Beech Grove the other week, he went and replaced it with a new one.
“I took the old one down and presented a new one,” Rohleder said. “What made me so happy was they turned around and came out and saluted the flag. That’s what made me happy.”