VINTON–The Vinton Relay for Life and the William Byrd High School Air Force JROTC are seeking names of cancer survivors to honor at the Relay event on May 1 at WBHS. Survivors will receive framed grommets from American flags which have been collected and retired by the Corps. Grommets are the metal rings that keep a flag secure and are saved when flags are retired.
The JROTC will be conducting its traditional Flag Retirement and Grommet Presentation Ceremony during the Opening Ceremonies at Relay for Life this year, weather permitting. In past years the flag retirement has been held earlier in the afternoon, prior to the opening of Relay events.
In case of inclement weather, the grommet presentations will be held indoors.
The JROTC is also accepting old flags for use in this or future flag retirement ceremonies. One of the goals of the JROTC program is to educate the public on the correct way to display proper patriotism by the formal retirement of flags.
According to their tradition, “When a flag is no longer fit to be displayed whether from age, use, or weather, it should be retired and destroyed—‘it has flown proudly and done its job well.’”
Generally flags are destroyed by being cut into the red and white stripes and the blue fields, and are “committed to the flames.” The grommets are retained and presented to selected individuals as symbols of good luck.
The Flag Retirement Ceremony was first held as part of the Vinton Relay for Life in 2011, although the JROTC began holding the flag ceremonies and presenting the grommets at Veteran’s Day observances years before. Vicky Carrell, the Administrative Assistant at WBHS, was the first recipient in 2007.
The ceremony will begin in the stadium at WBHS at 6 p.m. on May 1. Cancer survivors will then be honored at a reception at the Survivor’s tent which this year has been moved near the speaker’s stand and 50 yard line. They are also invited to walk the Survivor’s Lap during the Opening Ceremonies.
Anyone who would like to suggest the name of a cancer survivor for the Flag Retirement and Grommet ceremony is asked to contact Senior Master Sergeant Paul Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 540-562-3900, ext. 24055.
The only information needed for participation in the ceremonial presentation of the grommets is the survivor’s name, what type of cancer they have battled and for how long. Grommets may be accepted on behalf of a survivor as well. SMSgt. Richardson will have extra framed grommets on hand the night of Relay to present to any cancer survivors or for friends or families of survivors who would like one for a loved one unable to attend.
The JROTC will accept flags for retirement the night of Relay and will keep the fire burning as long as necessary, attended by a ceremonial team from the William Byrd JROTC.