Mayor R.B. Johnson receives a flag from a MacDill airman at Flag Day ceremonies in Indian Rocks Beach.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – For well over a decade the city of Indian Rocks Beach has held a formal Flag Day ceremony. This year it was June 13 at Chic-a-Si Park, and Mayor R.B. Johnson reminded those in attendance that the event is a source of pride for the city.
“Flag Day is this city’s patriotic event of the year,” he said. “You will notice that for two weeks before Memorial Day and for two weeks after the Fourth of July we fly the flag all along Gulf Boulevard.”
A large honor guard and color guard from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office began the event with the posting of the colors.
Then two airmen from MacDill Air Force Base demonstrated the proper way to fold and unfold the flag. Once they did that they presented the flag to the mayor.
Also taking part in the ceremony were the Girl Scouts of America. They led in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. Lanie Watson of Clearwater was one of those taking part. Her mother Andrea said the event was an important one for her daughter and all other young people.
“It is absolutely important to teach them to honor and respect our country,” she said. “It is an opportunity for the kids to be involved in civic ceremonies and it gets them out into the community.”
Another mother, Laura Jensen of Belleair, agreed. Flag Day was part of her childhood.
“My dad was an Air Force veteran and I was raised to honor and respect the flag,” she said. “This is a good opportunity for the kids to understand that and good for Indian Rocks Beach for having this event. It is important.”
Guest speaker for the day was Colonel Kevin Franke, the commander of the 6th Medical Group at MacDill Air Force Base. He spoke of the need to dispose of torn and tattered flags in the correct way.
“Flags that are no longer fit for service should be destroyed in a dignified way,” he said. “The flag should be cut up into little pieces and then burned piece by piece in a roaring fire. That is the traditional way.”
Among first time participants at the Flag Day ceremony was IRB resident Erica DiCeglie, the assistant music director at St. Jerome’s Church in Largo by day and a jazz singer by night. On this day she sang patriotic songs through the program.
Up front, near where the dignitaries sat, was a table full of neatly folded, but torn and worn flags. Those flags were collected by the city and were waiting to be destroyed.
“We have been holding this ceremony for more than 12 years,” said Johnson. “We encourage people to bring their worn out flags to us at City Hall. We collect them and keep them and then bring them to a facility where they are properly disposed of. We will take care of them.”
It was a year ago that Johnson honored the man whose idea launched the Flag Day ceremony in IRB, Victor Wood. Wood was a retired Commander in the U.S. Navy and had died a short time before Flag Day, 2013. Johnson said at the time it was difficult to imagine having the Flag Day ceremony without him in attendance.
“But we will carry on with this because this is what he would have wanted,” he said.