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.
A small crowd formed as the VFW members conducted the ceremony, which involved taking the flag from half-staff all the way to the top of the flag pole in the Metcalfe County courthouse yard before being lowered down the pole and removed.
Once the flag was down, Shawn and Timmy Hubbard II with Boy Scout Troop 747 in Glasgow, folded it. Shawn then presented the flag to his grandfather for inspection and later to VFW member Mike Peinsipp for fire detail.
Peinsipp then placed the flag in a barrel and set it on fire.
A new flag was raised and flown at half-staff.
“The flag is flying at half-staff today because of the two soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan who were assigned to Fort Campbell,” Denzil said.
Flags were flown at half-staff Saturday in honor of Spc. Robert A. Pierce, 20, of Huntington, Ark., and 2nd Lt. Justin L. Sisson, 23, of Phoenix, Ariz., who died June 3, from wounds they suffered when their unit was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, according to a press release from Gov. Steve Beshear's office.
After the ceremony, Veachel, Denzil and Shawn posed for a group photo.
Shawn plans to join the Kentucky National Guard in December. He will be 17. He made that decision, he said, because, “I feel like that's what God has called me to do.”
Shawn hopes to make the military his career and aspires to become a member of the military police.
“I feel like I could do a really good job at it,” he said.
Denzil was glad three generations of his family could be present for Saturday's event.
“It's awesome. It's one of the most awesome things you could do,” he said. “It doesn't get any better than this.”
VFW Post No. 6281 is on Cedar Flat Curtis Road in Metcalfe County. The organization meets the first Saturday of each month at 9 a.m. It consists of 62 members, who have served a wide range of military duty from World War II to Afghanistan and Iraq.
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