Frank J. Montoya

THE FINAL FLAME
(A Tribute to a Grand Old Flag)

We gather here today to perform a proud but solemn duty. We render to you, Dear Flag, a most heartfelt salute and we recall the many years that you have served in our community, at your designated post, as the Emblem of our great nation.

How often have you been raised, lowered, folded, and put away for the night, day after day, time after time? How many times have you bravely flown, feeling the biting sting of sleet and snow or the blistering heat of the summer sun? How many times have you proudly fluttered through the shredding force of wind and hail? How many days have you flown, in sorrow, at half-mast, to honor a fallen American Hero or to commemorate an event of national significance?

These duties you have performed devotedly and dependably as many a good Soldier has performed his or her own duty. But sadly, there comes a day, their duty done, when Soldiers, and even Flags, must retire. Your years of service have left you tired, tattered and torn. Your once tightly woven fabric is now weather beaten, stained and threadbare. Your once gleaming brass eyelets have become tarnished and corroded. Your once bright, blue field of stars has faded to a dullish gray and your once proud broad stripes of red are now but a dusky shade of pale pink.

Your years of service are over. Your time of being the symbol of our great nation has come to an end. You have been hoisted, saluted, lowered and folded for the last time.

Today, as you await the embrace of that all-consuming final flame, do not despair. Look up! Look up and see, as we do, through our misty eyes, that a bright new Flag has been hoisted on your lanyard, to the top of your flagpole, and is waving there, majestically, in such a manner that ensures the tradition of service you so splendidly established will continue… unaltered and undiminished.

But your days of glory will not end today. Your ashes will be scattered to the four winds and as they slowly blend into the earth you will be forever bonded to the soil of this Beloved Country that you have so honorably served these long and many years.

Goodbye, Dear Flag… We Thank You.