St. John Neumann Catholic Church hosts U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony

Farragut and other area veterans, scouts and their families gathered to pay tribute to veterans while retiring old flags.

More than 50 attendees watched the U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony, hosted at St. John Neumann Catholic Church Saturday, Nov. 11. Among those who participated were members of American Legion posts 278, 70 and 256; Veterans of Foreign Wars Huff Post 5150- 12135; Catholic War Veterans Post 1973; Knight of Columbus Council 8781; Knights of Columbus Assembly 3500, Campbell Station Fire Station 141, University of Tennessee Reserve Officers Training Corps, Boy Scout Troop 125 and American Heritage Girls Troop 278.

Veterans came forward to stand with their military branches’ flags during the ceremony.

“We had quite a few veterans here,” said master of ceremonies U.S. Army Sgt. George C. LeCrone Sr. with American Legion Post 70. “We had all the service flags represented.”

“It’s a good experience. I had three brothers in service,” said Kyle Stooksbury, who originally is from Farragut and is a Korean War veteran. “It’s a way to honor the flag.”

Carolyn Lubthisophon, retired U.S. Army specialist 4 of East Knoxville, was on hand to help with the fires and helps with the ceremony each year. Her husband, Kenneth Steven Lubthisophon, was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Lubthisophon said.

“We’ve been attending this for several years,” said Donald Dickson, American Legion Post 278 member. “I think it’s really great. This is one of the things American Legion does with the Boy Scouts. We think it’s important.”

“The reason [for holding the ceremony] is to show respect to our country and our veterans and provide a service,” said Mike Mason, Troop 125 scoutmaster. “This is part of being a Boy Scout, doing a good deed, and it’s a way for us to give back to our country.

“The Scouts are one of the few organizations actually authorized to retire flags,” Mason said. “Today, we probably retired a few hundred [flags]. We have more we will retire later.”

Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls all encompassed the scouts who participated in the Veterans Day event.

“A lot of scouting is about citizenship and honoring the flag,” he said. “This is our practical way to act. I’m very proud of my scouts.”

“This is our fifth year for this special Veterans Day event to recognize the true heroes of this great nation,” LeCrone said. “I would like all the young people here today to think about what we are doing here and how blessed you are to have such great men and women who have put their lives on the line to protect this country and remember our POW and MIAs who are still wanting to come home.

“It is our military that keeps us free so that we can gather as we are today,” he said. “Putting their lives on the line is not just a statement. They gave an oath to give up their lives, if necessary, to defend and protect what we have today. I ask that you always remember our veterans each day in your prayers.”

He recognized Boy Scout Troop 125 of St. John Neumann Catholic Church parish for supporting the ceremony each year by “taking care of the fires from start to finish.” LeCrone also recognized Fire Station 141, which has supported the event each year as well.

As part of the ceremony, the Rev. Deacon Marquis Syler of SJN led the prayer and Maj. John W. Toliver, UT assistant professor of military science, who led UT ROTC Historic Dragoon Company that presented the colors, explained the folds of the flag as his company secured the U.S. flag draped over the tables holding the flags to be retired. The flag was draped over the casket of LeCrone’s late father.