American Flag is Honored with Day of its Own
The American flag represents the life of an individual who has given military service.
To many, it is an honor to hold, fold and see it every day, including Flag Day, which is Sunday.
"The flag means to me, as a service member, freedom, sacrifice, honor," said Senior Airman Ryan Rinn, a member of the McConnell Air Force Base Honor Guard. "When we present a flag to a prior service member who has passed, we are honoring them for everything they have done.
"In the military, we are all family."
For people who serve in military honor guards, the flag is the symbol of a living soul.
"During the Civil War, it was an honor to carry the flag; that's exactly why the honor side is to the right side," said Tech Sgt. Terrance Williams, a noncommissioned officer in charge of the McConnell Air Force Base Honor Guard.
"One of the things we express is that when you see that flag walk by, stand up and salute the flag. You are not saluting us, you are saluting the flag. It is a sign of honor to everyone here."
The best of the best are chosen throughout the air base to serve on the honor guard, Rinn said. The first two weeks are spent practicing folding and refolding the flag, eight hours a day. The McConnell honor guard performs the service at more than 230 funerals a year.
"After the first two weeks, you earn your ceremonials (uniforms)," Rinn said.
The people who handle the American flag every day say there is never a need to rush when folding the flag. Fold it gently, carefully.
"Ceremoniously," Williams said.
"We only get one time to do it right for the family members and friends there to witness what their loved one did for the country. By doing it ceremoniously, or slow, we are doing it in an honorable way.
"It is a beautiful way of giving a person honors."