Valparaiso ceremony disposes of tattered flags — with honor
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 14, 2014 7:58PM
Stacks of American flags await proper disposal by burial during the annual Flag Day ceremony at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #988 in Valparaiso on Saturday, June 14, 2014. | Michael Gard/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 16, 2014 6:15AM
VALPARAISO — Nina Nordyke’s kids, Anna, 10, and Corbin, 14, know why Flag Day is important.
It’s to show respect and honor for the country’s soldiers and veterans, they said.
So Saturday, they lined up with about 100 other people, each clutching several old, tattered flags, tightly folded into triangles with the stars side up, and pitched them into a hole for burial at Veterans of Foreign Wars Hayes Post 988.
The post has been hosting the annual Flag Day ceremony since 2002, said Cmdr. Rafael Stephens. This year’s burial included 345 flags from across Porter County, turned in by fire and police departments, churches, schools, municipal buildings — anywhere a flag flies.
Nordyke, of Kouts, said her husband, Erik, served in Iraq, so the ceremony is of particular significance to the family.
“He was gone for quite a long time, so this just brings it a little bit home,” she said.
The ceremony is personal for Linda Davidson as well. Her father was a veteran of World War II and Korea and was past commander of the post. He got Davidson involved, and the Valparaiso resident has been to most of the Flag Day ceremonies over the years.
“It’s just heartwarming to share with everyone and learn about the flag, and pay tribute to our veterans for keeping us safe,” she said.
Post Quartermaster Ryan Kominakis, a Marine Corps veteran who served in combat in Afghanistan, provided a brief history of the flag, the phrase “Old Glory,” the “Star Spangled Banner” and Flag Day.
Old Glory means so much to so many people, he said.
“As a military man, I love the history, but it is much, much more than that,” he said, noting his service and that of fellow veterans. “What I try to think of most now is my safe return from Afghanistan.”
Flag Day makes him think of warm summer nights, of bonfires, and of his community, and everyone doing their part, as well as people of all ages attending the post’s ceremony for the first time.
“Please, please fly your flags high today and forever,” he said.