During a break in the day's rain showers, a small group watched the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 502 honorably retire more than a hundred American flags by way of burning. The flags were left in a drop-off box at Anniston Emergency Medical Services.
"Everyone who put a flag in there went out of their way to do so because they were afraid to put it in a trash can," said Rollins, deputy vice chairman of the state Board of Veterans Affairs. "This is a way of showing and reminding what the flag stands for."
"It's more than a piece of cloth, more than something that flies, more than something that covers a casket," he told the crowd, with tears glimmering in his eyes.
Rollins asked high school student Jacob Downing, visiting grandson of local veteran Dan Alberts, to explain the purpose of the ceremony.
"We're honoring our flag and those that have fallen to show what the flag represents, which is freedom for the whole world," Downing replied.
Anniston Mayor Gene Robinson and Councilman John Spain, who both served in the Navy, were also present at the ceremony.
"I love my flag and love my country to death," Robinson said to those gathered. "I get a bit emotional when I talk about my country and what it means to me."
Faye New's husband, Johnny New, participated with the honor guard. He was stationed with the Air Force in Thailand for a year during the Vietnam War.
"Anything to do with the country and the military means everything to him," she said. "He's a veteran and truly loves this country."
Later in the day, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 924 also hosted a flag disposal ceremony with more than 25 attending.
Due to weather concerns, only one flag was burned, symbolizing others to be burned at a later date. The disposal took place outside while the ceremony was held indoors.
Robinson and Spain attended this ceremony as well.
"Symbolically, we're getting rid of a great flag because it's become torn, or tattered or old," Robinson said.
Post Commander Jim Lorenzo explained the intention of flag burning to the crowd.
"When the flag is disposed of (in this way), it is done with dignity, love and respect," he said.
A Flag Day ceremony will be held at Fort McClellan Veteran's Cemetery at 2 p.m. today. Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Saks, will speak at the ceremony.