POLAND - Around 150 flags from town of Poland residents and others were retired at ceremony June 13 at Hallquist Park in Kennedy.
As the Veterans' Memorial and the flagpole with its current flag provided a fitting backdrop, flags of all sizes, with varying numbers of stars, were respectfully draped on the four-arm display for a final, dignified presentation.
Larry Mee, Poland highway superintendent, and U.S. Army veteran Clarence Robbins prepared the flags for retirement. Those attending could take the Walk of Honor, as many of the historical flags donated to the town of Poland by Vernon Crandall were displayed along the path leading to the retirement site.
Air Force veteran Chad Sischo, in fatigues, and his son, USAF A1C Bradley Sischo, in dress uniform, salute as the flags are honorably retired during the Flag Retirement Ceremony in Kennedy.
Joan Swanson, as Martha Washington, and Richard Swanson, as George Washington, hold an American as they begin the moving Flag Folding Ceremony, as Roland Swanson begins telling the crowd about the service.
Linda Bish and Shirley Leyman, Kennedy Pride co-presidents, welcomed everyone and then led in the Pledge of Allegiance. The Rev. Michael Herdzik, pastor of New Beginnings Baptist Church, gave the invocation. Kelly Snow, Poland supervisor, gave the acknowledgement that the flags were no longer suitable for display and should be retired. Mee and Robbins formally concurred with this statement. The honorable retirement of the flags was then begun, with the ignition performed by Robbins and Councilman Terry Walker. As the flags had their final moments of glory, a bagpipe solo of patriotic music, "She's a Grand Old Flag" and "God Bless America," was played in the gazebo by Wesley Bossman.
Before his remarks, Roland Swanson said he had recently returned home to find a bag with a flag in it and a note on his porch, and he wanted to share the note. In part it said, "Found this jumbled into a trash heap in the back of a cemetery. Don't think that's a good way to take care of this. Could you please see that this flag is honorably retired." Swanson felt it deserved to be passed on to the public, because they were upset with what had happened, and interested in the proper retirement of the flag.
Swanson then gave a short history of the American flag, from the first flag attributed to Betsy Ross to our present 50-star banner. Following his talk, as the last traces of the retired flags were consumed, Bossman played "Taps." The Rev. Herdzik gave the benediction, and those assembled were dismissed, to enjoy a community dish-to-pass picnic and fellowship with neighbors and friends. Many commented on the stirring ceremony, and were glad to see this tradition being carried on in the community.