Three generations of the Lile family turned out Saturday for a flag retirement ceremony, which took place during the Blueberry Festival in downtown Edmonton.
Veachel Lile, a World War II, veteran was present with his son, Denzil, who is commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 6281 in Metcalfe County, and his great-grandson, Shawn Lile, 16, who is a member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp or JROTC at John Hardin High School in Hardin County.
Veachel served with a Navy amphibious force in the Pacific Theater during World War II from 1944 to 1946.
“We were the first ones to land in Japan,” he said. “We were rendezvousing over there to invade Japan and [then] they dropped the atomic bomb. I guess that's why I'm here today.”
Veachel leaned on his walking cane while saluting the new flag as it was raised after the old one was retired.
The flag means a lot to him.
“There's many men and women who died fighting for it,” he said.
Standing with him was his daughter, Trewresa Gilbert, of Metcalfe County, who was at a loss for words to describe what it was like for her to be with her father during the ceremony.
Gilbert's brother, Denzil, a Vietnam veteran from Elizabethtown, is commander of the VFW. He lead the flag retirement ceremony Saturday.
“We want to educate the people, not only of the proper way to display flags, but the proper way to dispose of them,” he said, explaining why the VFW hosts flag retirement ceremonies.
Such ceremonies are typically done on Flag Day, which was actually on Friday, but the VFW opted to have its ceremony on Saturday during the annual Blueberry Festival in downtown Edmonton.
“We wanted to do it here with this going on because it is close to Flag Day and we could get more people involved in it,” he said.