Members of the local community, Linn County veterans, members of the Knights of Columbus and members of the Springville Fire Department were on hand June 8 at the Cox Lake Pavilion to retire hundreds of American flags that had become worn or damaged over the past year.

The guest speaker for the afternoon was Army Lt. Col. Ed Martin, who served 23 years.

With the recent marking of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and the nature of the flag retirement ceremony, Martin focused during his speech on the flag as a symbol saying it served as a reminder of “shared history.”

Martin served in the Pentagon and was employed there when the terrorist attacks occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, though he was not in the building when the plane crashed.

He recalled that in the aftermath of the attack, the largest flag authorized by the United States military, the one used by the U.S. Army Band at Fort Myer, located next to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, was draped over the building in the aftermath of the attack until it was retired a month after the attacks occurred.

Seeing that flag on a daily basis, Martin said, filled the staff with inspiration and a sense of comfort. Walking into work and viewing the flag, he said, gave him a sense of what Francis Scott Key must have felt when he composed the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

After Martin’s speech, there was a reading of “Old Glory” and the inspection of the flags before a flag was cut up and members of the Springville Fire Department disposed of the flags by burning them.

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