"Comrade Commander, the flags have been inspected and have become unserviceable in a worthy cause. I recommend they be honorably retired from further service," said Coaldale American Legion Sergeant at Arms Nancy Stevens to fill-in Commander John Rosahac during the start of the first American flag retirement ceremony held Saturday in Coaldale.

Members of the Coaldale American Legion Post 170, the Sons of the American Legion and Coaldale Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 hosted their first biennial flag retirement ceremony in the rear of the fire station.

The program started with the playing of the national anthem followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and an invocation by David Kessler, chaplain of the Coaldale American Legion.

James Rickert then provided an update regarding the Coaldale Flag Committee's flag/pole replacement drive, stating most of their flags' poles and brackets were destroyed during a heavy rainstorm last month.

After thanking those who have already given, Rickert encouraged the community to keep up the effort so they can afford more durable flag equipment.

Panther Valley JROTC Cadet Brook Turner read her report on the history of the American flag.

"The red represents hardiness and valor," Turner said. "The white represents purity and innocence. The blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. The stripes represent our 13 original colonies and the 50 stars represent our 50 states.

As a whole, it represents everything that the United States of America stands for."

She also read a self-made poem titled, "That Is Our Flag."

During the program, a moment of silence was given in honor and memory of John Collins, a Past Commander of the Coaldale VFW, who was laid to rest that same morning.

On hand during the retirement ceremony were members of the Coaldale American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, Coaldale VFW, Navy Club, Lansford American Legion, AMVETS Post 1 of McAdoo and others.

Providing the ceremony prayer was Joe Folk, chaplain of the Coaldale American Legion.

During the program, Rosahac read, "Comrade Commander, since these flags have become faded and worn in a tribute of service and love, I also recommend they be fittingly destroyed."

Steven replied, "Comrades, we have presented here those flags of our country which have been inspected and judged as unserviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love."

He continued, "A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for a free nation of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy."