Flag Day ceremony shows support for military members

In honor of national Flag Day on June 14, approximately 50 veterans and civilians gathered to view a ceremony hosted by the American Legion Post 149 and Chapman Dodge Chrysler Jeep. The ceremony paid tribute to the American flag and respectfully retired hundreds of unserviceable flags.

Attendees sat in silence as leaders of American Legion Post 149 read an official script and recited a prayer.

“Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier, sailor or airman dead be unhonored and unmarked,” read Post Commander Yvette Weigold.

Chapman Dodge Chrysler Jeep has been a long-time supporter of the nation’s servicemen and women. The dealership employs many retired and current members of the armed forces and donates its previous lot space to the American Legion Post 149 for its meetings, events and programs. Chapman Dodge also co-sponsors the American Legion radio show, “Still Serving,” which airs on KLAV-AM 1230 and often donates vehicles for veteran’s holiday parades.

Chapman employees in attendance included 35-year Air Force veteran Rob Marshall and 16-year Army veteran Gary Brewer.

“This ceremony is dedicated to all veterans, past, living and future,” said Gary Brewer, general sales manager at Chapman Dodge Chrysler Jeep. “We hope even more people will come join us next year of Flag Day to witness this patriotic and inspiring tribute.”

The American Legion Post 149 has been a drop-off point for American flags that are no longer in proper condition. Following the ceremony, more than 250 flags collected from the community were disposed of by burning, which is the most appropriate method of flag disposal. Veterans stood in line with fellow members of the armed forces department they served and each took a turn respectfully placing a flag into the fire.

Mildred Ali was one of several widows in attendance to honor her husband’s military service. Ali’s first husband served in the Navy in World War I and passed away in 1982. Her second husband served in World War II in the Army and was a recipient of the Silver Star for Valor during his time in service. He passed away in 2000. Mildred Ali served the military for 35 years, giving out poppies to help people remember fallen vets.

“Both of them fought for their country for many years and I am here tonight to honor and remember them,” Ali said. “It was a beautiful ceremony and I enjoyed it very much.”

The flag retirement ceremony was the first of its size for the American Legion Post 149 to host, but they plan to make it an annual or biannual event.

Post Commander Weigold, who served in the Marine Corps and Army for 26 years, said she hopes it will help to educate the community on the importance of honoring the flag and the appropriate protocol for disposing of unserviceable flags. She also pointed out the need to regularly host such sanctioned ceremonies due to the large number of flags dropped off at the post throughout the year. Mike Cieslar, the post second vice commander, said flag retirement ceremonies are often a peaceful, symbolic representation for veterans and those who have lost loved ones who served the country.

“The flag symbolizes hope,” Cieslar said. “This is putting a lot of memories to rest for a lot of people.”

Chapman Dodge Chrysler Jeep sells and services new and used vehicles and is located on 3175 E. Sahara Ave. Chapman Dodge can be reached at 800-NewDodge and www.LasVegasDodge.com.

In addition to Chapman Dodge, Chapman Chrysler Jeep sells and services the complete line of Chrysler and Jeep vehicles in the Valley Automall. Chapman Chrysler Jeep can be reached at 888-207-1687 or online at www.Chapman ChryslerJeep.com.