Grissom recognizes Flag Day, continues collection program

  • Published
  • By Ben Mota
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

In a day and age where disrespecting the flag has become a common occurrence, it’s important to remember what it represents and why Flag Day is celebrated annually on June 14. 

The design of the flag itself is rich in both symbolism and heritage. The 13 horizontal stripes represent the original 13 colonies, while the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white signifies purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.

In 2017 Kenny Hehr, 434th Financial Management civilian pay technician, saw a need for proper disposal of Grissom’s deteriorated flags and began a program accepting them across base for proper disposal.  

Throughout the year Hehr collects flags and on Flag Day those flags are disposed of by local veteran organizations.

“I’ve always been a patriot and have flown a flag at my house for decades,” said Hehr, also an Air Force veteran. “I saw a need so I started unofficially accepting flags to ensure they were being disposed of properly.”

 Last year the disposal program became official and numbers continue to rise. The program exemplifies innovation and also reforms the base by educating civilians and Airmen about the history and heritage of the flag.

“I enjoy getting out and speaking about the program because so many people don’t understand the requirements for proper flag disposal,” said Hehr.

This year Heir has collected more than 25 flags.

“As more people are educated, I’ve been getting more flags,” said Hehr. “What is nice is the fact that people are even bringing me pieces of flag for proper disposal. This tells me that the program is working and word is getting out.”

Flag Day was officially established as June 14, the anniversary of the 1777 resolution, by President Woodrow Wilson with a proclamation made in 1916.  In 1949, Congress approved the day as a national observance with President Harry Truman signing it into law.

During a special flag-folding ceremony used by the Air Force to honor the flag and those who have served under it, ceremonial honor guardsmen recite the following: "Today, our flag flies on constellations of Air Force satellites that circle our globe, and on the fin flash of our aircraft in harm's way in every corner of the world. Indeed, it flies in the heart of every Airman who serves our great Nation. The sun never sets on our US Air Force, nor on the flag we so proudly cherish."

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.