The Fourth of July celebration in the Kentlands always features a spirited parade along Tschiffely Square Road ending at the clubhouse lawn where everyone is greeted by a carnival that includes games, bounce features and other inflatables, face painting, balloon artist, wagon rides, food vendors, beer tent, and lots of family fun.
Yet one serious aspect of the day’s many events that is often overlooked is an annual flag retirement ceremony that takes place inside the clubhouse for those of us who have old and worn American flags that should be replaced. Anyone who walks or drives through the Kentlands will notice the many flags displaying at our homes, all paying homage to colleges, sports teams, or country. It is also important to ensure that any American flag on display is in good condition and that old flags are properly retired. And there is an etiquette to handling and replacing American flags that reflects our awareness of their symbolism and our respect.
The American Legion Post 295 will be in attendance on July 4 and will accept old flags from residents and neighbors, and graciously provide the necessary handling to retire the flags through a ceremony at 1:00 pm.
Flag Retirement Ceremony
If you have never seen one, the flag retirement ceremony is a fitting expression of tribute, respect and honor amidst all the joyful noise and festivities during the day. Those who have American flags that are no longer “serviceable” are invited to turn in their worn, faded, soiled and damaged flags to the clubhouse, anytime up to 12 noon on July 4. After 12 noon, members of American Legion Post 295 will be available on the lawn to accept walk-ins up until the time of the ceremony at 1:00 p.m.
The ceremony, initiated in 1937, is intended to encourage proper respect for the Flag of the United States and to provide for appropriate disposal of unserviceable flags in a dignified manner. “We thank Thee for our Country and its Flag, and for the liberty for which it stands,” states the American Legion. The flags are respectfully prepared and folded, followed by a short, but moving ceremonial service.
The Fourth of July may be a good time for everyone with American flags to take a moment to check the condition of their flags and consider retiring those flags that are past their prime.
For those who wish to participate in or watch the Kentlands parade, be mindful of the time. The Kentlands parade is a thoroughly entertaining, quirky half-mile of patriotic display and community enthusiasm, but it lasts only 15 minutes and then it’s over. Participants joke that it takes longer to line up than to actually march in the parade.
The parade follows a planned route from Rachel Carson Elementary School (RCES) up Tschiffely Square Road toward the Kentlands Clubhouse Lawn. Parade participants will march with make-shift floats that are sometimes built upon bicycles, costumes, pets that are with or without pet costumes, strollers, bicycles and wagons. There may also be fire trucks, community leaders, elected officials, flags and Uncle Sam. The parade is a great photo opportunity.
Schedule of Events
Anyone can participate. No need to register. Just show up at the appointed time and place. Gathering spots for parade participants are located at RCES and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, across the street from the elementary school. Gathering for the flag retirement ceremony will be on the Kentlands Clubhouse Lawn. The schedule:
8:30-9:30 a.m. Community breakfast provided by the church and bike decorating
9:00-9:45 a.m. Arrival of floats and paraders, parade line-up at RCES
9:45-10:00 a.m. Parade from RCES up Tschiffely Square Road to the clubhouse
10:00 a.m. Carnival begins on the clubhouse lawn
1:00 p.m. Flag retirement ceremony, American Legion Post 295, clubhouse
3:00 p.m. Carnival ends
Note: The parade route down Tschiffely Square Road will be blocked off for the parade. Streets will reopen on a rolling basis as the parade passes. Please avoid parking around the inner circle of Tschiffely Square Road around the Clubhouse on the day of the event.