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American Revolution traditions remain steadfast

Throughout the year various patriotic services are open to the public at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City. Recently, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution held an American flag retirement ceremony there.

Flags that had reached the end of their usable age through decay, rips and tears, fire damage or other negative means were ceremoniously disposed of. Veterans, representatives of patriotic groups and others did the honors. The worn flags came from all over Southern Nevada.

Shirley Dunphy, regent of the Valley of Fire, Daughters of the American Revolution, said her chapter began properly disposing of worn flags in Nevada 26 years ago.

“One of our members observed what she perceived to be the terrible disrespect for the flag, and it was her idea that generated the ceremony. It’s been ongoing ever since.”

Dunphy said that each of the 13 folds of the flag has a symbolic element to it.

“When the flag is completely folded up, it’s in a triangular shape supposedly representative of, or reminiscent of, a cocked hat.”

Civilians began wearing such hats during the American Revolution, and the style became part of Navy uniforms in the late 1700s.

The 13 folds do hold great significance to those who served the nation. Full details are available on the internet, but the first fold is a symbol of life, and the last, when the flag is completed folded, has its stars uppermost. It is to remind individuals of the national motto “In God We Trust.”

Dunphy has been a DAR member for five years. A former resident of Washington state, she said “I’ve always been very interested in genealogy and I had known that there was someone in my ancestry who was in the Revolution, but never really put the two together until I got here.” Dunphy said she joined the Clark County Genealogical Society, “and I just started putting together the proofs to join DAR.”

Dunphy said anyone who feels they may qualify for membership in DAR can contact a local chapter.

“We’re always happy to help someone with their research,” she said. “And the (Las Vegas FamilySearch (Genealogy) Library at Ninth (Street) and Clark (Avenue in Las Vegas) is a wonderful resource. There are always people there to help others go through their genealogy.”

It’s not only daughters with Revolutionary roots who have opportunities to join a DAR-connected group and take part in volunteer and other community activities.

“There is the Sons of the American Revolution with multiple active chapters in Nevada,” she explained, and the two groups sometimes work on projects together. Not to be outdone, there are chapters of Children of the American Revolution.

“The CAR, as they are named, are very active here in Nevada as well,” Dunphy said.

At the recent flag retirement ceremony, 16-year-old Madison Van Ness read a poem she wrote about the flag titled “Proud to Serve You.” She is the Nevada president of Children of the American Revolution, and she put her heartfelt feelings into deeply meaningful words. Judging by the appreciative applause, those in attendance were proud to think that if Van Ness is representative of the nation’s youth, then Americanism will continue to grow and prosper.

At the conclusion of the formal events at the cemetery, members of the audience carried the distressed flags outside, where a burn pit had been fired up. They stood with their hands over their hearts while taps was played. Then one by one they all passed by the flames and deposited the flags. At one point during the procession, a military helicopter flew over the cemetery in an airborne expression of honor. It was low enough to the ground for those watching to excitedly wave to the smiling pilot, who was easily recognizable. It was a fitting end to a day of respect, honoring America’s flag from the ground all the way up to the sky.

Chuck N. Baker is a Purple Heart veteran of the Vietnam War and the host of “That’s America to Me” every Sunday at 7 a.m. on 97.1-FM.

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