Emma Niec retires one of the flags during the ceremony.
Emma Niec retires one of the flags during the ceremony.
A flag retirement ceremony in honor of Flag Day was recently held in Phelps at Sand Lake Pub. This marked year 16 for the ceremony, which was coordinated by Dan Swiecichowski.

“We are gathered here for an important patriotic and solemn purpose. Let us retire these tattered flags in honor of our country and who have served, fought and died,” said Swiecichowski.

The ceremony included opening and closing prayers by Dave Konopacky, the colors were posted by the Honor Guard of the Veterans of Foreign Wars-American Veterans Post 8400 of Land O’ Lakes, American Legion Post #464, and the auxiliary post.

Steve Dunphy sang the National Anthem, Emma Niec (Swiecichowski’s granddaughter) read “Remember Me,” a tribute to the American Flag. The first flag to be retired was presented to Brigadier General Joe Brandemuehl who then handed the flag to flag presenters, Robert Burke and Ray Athey.

“Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites, and be replaced by bright, new flags of the same size and kind. Let no grave of any soldier, sailor or airman dead be dishonored and unmarked,” said Swiecichowski.

The ceremony continued with a gun salute and “Taps” played by Scott Topp. Tom McKale, a member of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Bagpiper Group, played a series of tunes referred to as the “Patriot Set” while the flags were retired, followed by guest speaker Brian Thomas, Vilas County Veterans Service Officer.

The ceremony was well attended and a success, said Swiecichowski. Those in attendance, as well as the volunteers who helped with the ceremony were welcomed to a pot luck meal afterwards sponsored by Marti and Jen Primich, owners of the Sand Lake Pub.