By Sarah Chacko
Killeen Daily Herald
In its tattered red stripes and sun-bleached blues, another year of American history showed through another year of soldiers come and gone, another year of freedom.
As the flags at City Hall and American Legion Post 223 were lowered and ceremonially resigned as part of the Flagfest celebration Sunday, newer, brighter flags climbed up to take their places.
Nancy Rainey of Killeen said it was like a new birth.
This one has gone through the pain and sorrow, she said after the worn flag at the American Legion was taken down. With a new flag is a new opportunity, a new chance to go forward.
Rainey, 61, said she came out to honor the significance of the flag, not only as a national symbol of freedom but as a calling for those who have served the country it represents.
Its a way to honor America and everything we stand for, she said.
Killeen Police Department Chaplain Elwin Vanderland led a prayer, thanking God for the many ways He has blessed the nation and asked for continuing protection.
Always watch over that flag, Vanderland prayed.
May it fly in truth, in honor, in peace and in freedom. May it truly represent to all the world the hope and aspirations of all mankind.
Brig. Gen. Nolen Bivens, the 4th Infantry Divisions assistant commander for maneuver, spoke briefly about the flag with the words most significant to it the Pledge of Allegiance.
Thats what the flag is all about, he said.
It is what every uniform has sworn to defend and protect, and what others are still serving under, Bivens said. It is a mission to preserve the truth of the last words of the Star-Spangled Banner, waving over the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Rainey said American citizens should show their support for the freedoms they have, which are often taken for granted.
Since coming to the city in 2002, Rainey said she has enjoyed the great amount of diversity in the community which was evident in the Flagfest parade from City Hall to the American Legion.
Brightly dressed dancers and members of various cultural organizations, including Cul-tura Filipiniana, Sociedad Cultural Hispano Americana and Ballet Folkloric de Colores, marched in a crowd of waving American and other countries flags.
For the fifth year, the Multi-Ethnic Cultural and Arts Association sponsored the event, which was recreated when Killeens former flag festival became the Celebrate Killeen festival.
MECA Director Dan Kott said the goal of the organization is to try and blend ethnic, generational and cross-cultural groups.
Were all here to celebrate the flag, Kott said.
Mayor Maureen Jouett said America has been referred to as a melting pot where cultures blend, but she likes to think of it more as a cultural salad.
Each component is separate unto itself but part of a magnificent whole, she said.
The American Legion will have the ceremonial flag burning to dispose of the flags Sunday and about more than 100 others at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The city and nation will also pause for one minute at that time in honor of the Pledge of Allegiance.
Contact Sarah Chacko at firstname.lastname@example.org