Flag Retirement Ceremony

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all".

Date: July 3rd

Time: 6:00 p.m.

Location:  BB&T Flag Pole, 104 S. Howe Street

Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Speaks at Flag Retirement Ceremony

LTC Gary Crowden (Ret.) comes from a military family.  His father was a World War II and Korean War veteran and Crowden served as an Army officer for over two decades including a tour with the famous 101st Airborne Division in the Republic of Vietnam.  As a member of this unit he was an infantry platoon leader, ground cavalry troop executive officer and an air cavalry squadron adjutant.  As a young lieutenant he participated as a member of the United States Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) marksmanship team in England. He has served in multiple positions of command and staff and retired from the military serving as an Emergency Planner for the Secretary of Defense where he was responsible for review of State Department embassy plans for evacuation as well as plans for the evacuation of the president and members of Congress should the need arise from the National Capital Region.  The highlight of his military career was his assignment to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in Jerusalem.  In December 1988, he along with 297 officers from 17 nations were recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for their collective work in the Middle East during Israel’s invasion into Lebanon in 1978 and the withdrawal of Israel from the Sinai which resulted in the subsequent occupation of the Sinai by Egyptian forces. 


LTC Crowden (Ret.) graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1969.  In April 2010, he was inducted into the Purdue University ROTC Hall of Fame.  He obtained a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern California in 1985 and is also a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.


After his service, he was employed as the Manager of Plans, Policies and Procedures by the Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC) which is a billion dollar start-up environmental company designed to clean up oil spills throughout the United States and its territories.  His career than took him to Northrop Grumman where he worked as a senior engineer/manager until he retired supporting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in development of software as well as plans and procedures to assist air traffic controllers direct aircraft around storms in order to arrive at their destination on time.


LTC Crowden (Ret.) resides in St. James, NC with his wife, Maggi.  Together they have five children and three grandchildren.

The U.S. Flag Code states “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning". 


Held annually during the festival, the N.C. 4th of July Festival Retirement Ceremony is a somber and respectful event. The Ceremony is organized by the Richard H. Stewart Jr. American Legion Post and the Cape Fear Council of Boy Scouts.


If you have a worn flag, you may leave the flag anytime during the year at the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center, 4433 Long Beach Road, Southport or the V.F.W. Post 104900, 103 SE 50th Street, Oak Island for proper disposal.


Attend the 2016 Flag Retirement Ceremony

  • Watch as Flags that have become unserviceable are honorably retired
  • Join in the ceremony by singing along as we sing the Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful and Dave Holly leads the crowd as we say the pledge of allegiance. 
  • Listen to a guest speaker - Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Gary G. Crowden.  Read Bio Here. 
  • Learn as there is an explaination of what the flag ceremony represents.
  • Contemplate "A Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or grat; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for a free Nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy.
  • Reflect as the benediction prayer for the flag ceremony is spoken by a Scout.
  • Join as we joyously sing God Bless America. 
  • Salute or place your hand over your heart as Taps is played.


More Flag Etiquette

The North Carolina 4th of July Festival Committee invites the public to finanically support the festival by purchasing a new US Flag for $20 at the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center.  Old flags may also be dropped off for proper retirement throughout the year at the same location.  100% of the proceeds from flag sales will go to support the N.C. 4th of July Festival. The flags are a standard 3x5 in measurement, made in the U.S.A. and are nylon.


The Chamber office is located at 4433 Long Beach Road, SE, Southport and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.        

The North Carolina 4th of July Festival Announces Flag Day Fund-raiser & Flag Retirement
Flag Day.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [117.6 KB]

I am the Flag

by Ruth Apperson Rous

I am the flag of the United States of America.

I was born on June 14, 1777, in Philadelphia.

There the Continental Congress adopted my stars and stripes as the national flag.

My thirteen stripes alternating red and white, with a union of thirteen white stars in a field of blue, represented a new constellation, a new nation dedicated to the personal and religious liberty of mankind.

Today fifty stars signal from my union, one for each of the fifty sovereign states in the greatest constitutional republic the world has ever known.

My colors symbolize the patriotic ideals and spiritual qualities of the citizens of my country.

My red stripes proclaim the fearless courage and integrity of American men and boys and the self-sacrifice and devotion of American mothers and daughters.

My white stripes stand for liberty and equality for all.

My blue is the blue of heaven, loyalty, and faith.

I represent these eternal principles: liberty, justice, and humanity.

I embody American freedom: freedom of speech, religion, assembly, the press, and the sanctity of the home.

I typify that indomitable spirit of determination brought to my land by Christopher Columbus and by all my forefathers - the Pilgrims, Puritans, settlers at James town and Plymouth.

I am as old as my nation.

I am a living symbol of my nation's law: the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights.

I voice Abraham Lincoln's philosophy: "A government of the people, by the people, for the people."

I stand guard over my nation's schools, the seedbed of good citizenship and true patriotism.

I am displayed in every schoolroom throughout my nation; every schoolyard has a flag pole for my display.

Daily thousands upon thousands of boys and girls pledge their allegiance to me and my country.

I have my own law—Public Law 829, "The Flag Code" - which definitely states my correct use and display for all occasions and situations.

I have my special day, Flag Day. June 14 is set aside to honor my birth.

Americans, I am the sacred emblem of your country. I symbolize your birthright, your heritage of liberty purchased with blood and sorrow.

I am your title deed of freedom, which is yours to enjoy and hold in trust for posterity.

If you fail to keep this sacred trust inviolate, if I am nullified and destroyed, you and your children will become slaves to dictators and despots.

Eternal vigilance is your price of freedom.

As you see me silhouetted against the peaceful skies of my country, remind yourself that I am the flag of your country, that I stand for what you are - no more, no less.

Guard me well, lest your freedom perish from the earth.

Dedicate your lives to those principles for which I stand: "One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
I was created in freedom. I made my first appearance in a battle for human liberty.

God grant that I may spend eternity in my "land of the free and the home of the brave" and that I shall ever be known as "Old Glory," the flag of the United States of America.

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