Military veterans at Colonial Lakes Health Care gathered around the flag pole for the removal of the old flag and the hoisting of a new one.
The red stripes had faded to pink, and the ends of the cloth were shredded from the weather — the flag had served its purpose well.
The American flag flying at the entrance of Colonial Lakes Health Care, in Winter Garden, was due for a proper retirement.
And so it was on a breezy afternoon Jan. 29. Members of the Air Force Junior ROTC at West Orange High School, representatives from Kindred Hospice, Colonial Lakes staff and several veterans gathered around the flag pole at the health care facility’s front entrance to honor the American flag — which flapped in the wind even as it was being lowered.
AFJROTC members Quang Le, cadet master sergeant; Fernando Cuevas, cadet senior airman; and Marshall Ricketts, cadet technical sergeant and the commander for the ceremony, removed the old flag, folded it and gave it a final salute before raising a new flag in its place.
Their instructor, Sr. Master Sgt. Shonda Spencer, was there giving the boys moral support.
Pamela L. Wisner-Stephens, a hospice specialist with Kindred Hospice, said a ceremony is arranged “if I see one of our communities with a flag that needs (to be) retired. I came from a military family, and it’s respect for the flag.”
Wisner-Stephens handed out “thank you” pins to the veterans who were present, including Edwin Stone, Pedro Ortiz and Eric Robinson.
Stone, 82, was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War but said he was sent home under the Brother Act, a ruling established after five Sullivan brothers serving on one Navy vessel died during an attack in World War II. Two of his brothers were serving in Germany, and another was in Korea.
Stone said he was disappointed because he wanted to join his brothers in service.
Ortiz served in the Army during the Vietnam War, following in the footsteps of his father, who served 35 years in Army.
Robinson worked in Army telecommunications in Alaska for three-and-one-half years. He participated in the Veterans in the Park program at Silver Star Village, in Orlando. After serving his time in the Army, Robinson found himself living on the streets and in the woods until the Salvation Army helped him with housing.
He now lives among other veterans at Colonial Lakes, proud to have served his country.
Wisner-Stephens said the old flag will be properly disposed of at a VFW post.