71ºF

Flag retirement ceremonies part of Veterans Day celebrations

The veterans parade in Downtown Roanoke kicks off Saturday morning

ROANOKE, Va. – A historic 48-star American Flag is being preserved after the flag, in nearly perfect condition, was handed over to the Williamson Road Area Business Association for retirement. 

The 48-star flag became the official flag of the United States in 1912, adding two stars to the previous version of the American flag to represent Arizona and New Mexico. That flag was flown for nearly five decades until stars were added in honor of Hawaii and Alaska in 1959. 

Wendy Jones, the executive director of the Williamson Road Area Business Association, says she's received dozens of flags over the past several weeks. All of the flags are set to be honorably destroyed at a flag retirement ceremony the association is putting on it this week.

John says she was surprised when an extra large cotton flag, measuring 9' by 5' was dropped off at her office last week. The woman who left it told Jones that the flag had been in a hope chest for more than 50 years. It had belonged to her brother, who served in the Korean War.

Jones says she immediately recognized the date, knowing that a flag that old had to be a 48-star American flag. 

"You don't come up with gems like this very often," says Jones. "Flags that are flown are usually pretty flown and have seen their better days. So this is really special to get something like this. You don't see a 48-star flag every day, you just don't."

Jones says she couldn't bring herself to destroy the flag, which other than a tiny stain on one of the white stripes and some discoloration along the border, is in nearly perfect condition. Instead, she's donating the flag to the New Freedom Farm, an organization that revives horses and uses them to help people in our community, especially local veterans.

The flag will be flown there, and when it's not being flown it will be put on display with other memorabilia from local veterans.

The Williamson Road Area Business Association flag retirement and veteran ceremony will kick off Thursday night at Fire station #3 on Williamson Road. For more information, and to RSVP click here.

With Veterans Day approaching, there are other events taking place across the region to honor our nation's veterans as well. 

Saturday marks the veterans parade in Downtown Roanoke. The meet and greet takes off at 9:30 a.m. with the parade getting underway at 11 a.m. WSLS 10 is a proud sponsor and will be broadcasting the parade live starting at 11 a.m.

Friday night marks another celebration for local veterans, the Blue Ridge Veterans Celebration dinner at the Vinton War Memorial. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m., with a guest speaker Maj. Tom Bortner, who was deployed to Qatar in 2017 and to the Virgin Islands in support of Hurricane Maria response efforts earlier this year.

Hundreds of Boy Scouts will also be on hand for a flag retirement ceremony at the High Ground Veterans Monument. Scoutmaster Woody Sadler says putting on an event like this to honor our local veterans is his way of teaching these future generations what it means to serve.

"We're teaching them life lessons and leadership skills," he says. "We're also teaching them about being a good American and a good part of being an American is getting service back to your community." 

The Blue Ridge Veterans Celebration will also honor the hidden heroes -- the spouses, parents, siblings and other loved ones to help and look after our nations military and veterans. 

"They care for them day to day. Whether they're having an issue with post-traumatic stress or an injury, they are the support system quite often for the veteran," says Mary Beth Layman, special programs director for the Town of Vinton. 

The Blue Ridge Veterans Celebration kicks off Friday at 5:30 p.m.