By Paige Gnann
Chief Petty Officers (CPOs) from Commander,  Naval Surface Squadron (CNSS) 14 gathered Nov. 14 at the CPO Club to burn flags, not as a show of protest or contention, but as a reminder of the honor and reverence that the ensign is due.
NS Mayport Command Master Chief Bill Houlihan served as guest speaker for the flag retirement ceremony in which 23 damaged and torn flags were respectfully disposed.
"Welcome to a ceremony that is traditionally done right by the groups who form the backbone of our country," Houlihan said. "What you're about to see is something that's been perfected over the years by the militaryâ¦.  Always under the watchful eye of the men and women who form the conscience of this nation, our veterans."
As a part of the ceremony, the flag is cut into pieces with shears, never torn, and the blue remaining intact as it represents the union of states never to be broken.
"Talk about goosebumps!  The ceremony is a powerful reminder of why we should hold our flag in such reverence," said CMDCM Jon Lonsdale of CNSS 14. "From the unfurling of the flag, to moving speeches and closing with Taps, it was a perfectly executed ceremony."
"As an Eagle Scout and a Senior Chief Petty Officer, it was an honor to be a part of the Flag Retirement Ceremony," said STGCS(SW) Scott Callaway. "Much like for us, this retirement is a rebirth. Taking something worn and weathered and symbolically transforming it into anew."