Day Mountain Middle School awaits Flag Retirement Ceremony. Photo by Paula Kane

Table Set for One – Johnny Maynard. Paula Kane photo

Touareg Lee, 8th Grader, assisted Principal Magaret Adams and Science Teacher Tom Piekart in collecting flags from Strong Cemetery. Submitted photo

STRONG — Several Veterans from American Legion Norton-Wuori Post #61 in Kingfield were special guests at MSAD 58’s Day Mountain Regional Middle School in Strong last week. Jim Williamson, Johnny Maynard, Richard Burns, Tom O’Hara, and Bill Peterken taught students how to properly fold the American flag, how to set “The Table Set for One”, and how to properly retire flags that are tattered and worn.

158 students from grades 5 – 8 gathered with their teachers and other members of the middle school staff in the gymnasium. Every student present took part in a hands-on demonstration of how to fold the American flag, including a lesson on what each fold, twelve in all, means. The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which America was originally founded.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost as a reminder of America’s national motto: In God We Trust”. It is in the shape of a cocked hat in remembrance of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones and who have been followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States of America throughout history, “preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.”

The Table Set for One was also explained. It is set with one place setting, symbolizing the fact that a member of the armed forces is missing from his/her home and family. These missing are referred to as POWs (Prisoners or War) and MIAs (Missing in Action).

Every item on the small table has its own special symbolism, as follows:  “We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor near the head table.

It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades.
They are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join together to pay our humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence.


This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors.
The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.

The red ribbon on the vase represents an unyielding determination, a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us.
The lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty. They are not here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.

The American flag reminds us that many of them may never return – and have paid the supreme sacrifice to insure our freedom.”

A short prayer was offered at the closing: “Let us remember and never forget their sacrifice. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.”

Following the lessons in the gym, everyone reconvened on the soccer field behind the school. Here, each student was given a small American flag. 207 flags, all determined to be no longer serviceable, had been collected previously from the graves of Veterans at the Strong Town Cemetery on Rt. 149. This task was performed by Day Mountain School Principal Margaret Adams, 5th/6th grade science teacher Tom Piekart, and 8th grade volunteer Touareg Lee.

The proper fate of a flag which has been “worn out in worthy service” is burning. It was a long line of very solemn youth and adults which formed to carry the flags to the fire into which each was dropped and consumed.

In closing, a prayer was offered to “Our Supreme Commander Over All”.

It was noted that volunteers from Day Mountain will also assist with replacing flags come spring, sometime before Memorial Day.

Veterans also visited Phillips and Kingfield Elementary Schools and Mt. Abram Regional High School this week.

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