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Flag Day: Honoring red, white, blue

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Luke Goins, 633d Force Support Squadron ceremonial honor guardsman, inspects the edges of the American Flag, after performing a flag folding ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 12, 2017. It has been more than 100 years since the holiday’s inception by President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Luke Goins, 633d Force Support Squadron ceremonial honor guardsman, inspects the edges of the American Flag, after performing a flag folding ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 12, 2017. It has been more than 100 years since the holiday’s inception by President Woodrow Wilson, in 1916. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

U.S. Air Force service members, assigned to the base Honor Guard, perform a flag folding ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 12, 2017. The flag folding ceremony is a time honored tradition that is used during Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, as well as retirements from the Armed Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

U.S. Air Force service members, assigned to the base Honor Guard, perform a flag folding ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 12, 2017. The flag folding ceremony is a time honored tradition that is used during Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies, as well as retirements from the Armed Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Luke Goins, 633rd Force Support Squadron ceremonial honor guardsman, presents the American Flag after a flag folding ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 12, 2017. The ceremony was in honor of Flag Day, which is observed on June 14 every year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Luke Goins, 633rd Force Support Squadron ceremonial honor guardsman, presents the American Flag after a flag folding ceremony at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., June 12, 2017. The ceremony was in honor of Flag Day, which is observed on June 14 every year. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

June 14, 1777, the Second Congressional Congress adopted the flag of the United States of America.

Later in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as the day to officially celebrate our flag. 

More than 100 years after the holiday’s inception, the United States celebrates Flag Day as a commemoration to the emblem of the nation. Throughout history, the flag has evolved, much like the U.S., to represent the growth and struggles of what the nation is today.

 

According to Senior Airman Luke Goins, 633rd Force Support Squadron, ceremonial honor guardsman, the purpose of Flag Day is to honor the flag, and to serve those who have come before us.

“We don’t wear names on our uniforms, because it’s not about us; it’s about those [who] have come before,” said Goins, as he reflected on his time spent in the Joint Base Langley-Eustis Honor Guard, and the influence it has on his dedication to the Air Force, his comrades, and their families. 

Since their inception in 1948, the Honor Guard, an elite group of men and women, dedicated to representing those who commit their lives to the United States Air Force, has come a long way. They evolved from a Ceremonial Detachment of the Air Police Squadron in 1972, to their own independent Honor Guard Unit.

The rigorous vetting process aligned with the strict standards of appearance, conduct and attitude ensure each unit’s ceremonial guardsman reflects the flag they bear.

“We wear the flag on our uniforms and see it on the tails of our aircraft,” said Michael D. Dugre, Air Combat Command historian. “The flag is always a central fixture and component of any ceremony in the military. It’s our national flag, a symbol of our identity. We fight America’s wars and rally around this symbol.”

Of the honor guard’s many ceremonial gestures, the most personal is the folding of the flag.

The flag is folded into two parts, signifying life and death. The flag is then folded into a triangle to represent the tri-cornered hats worn by those who won freedom in the Revolutionary War. The red and white stripes, which stand for the bloody hardship of life and the purity and goodness of what’s to come, are folded over the stars to denote the beyond and the Airman’s final place of rest.

For Goins and the members of JBLE Honor Guard, the flag is a symbol of pride. 

“I look at the flag, and see the men and women who fought for this country, and who put their life on the line. Because of their service, I have the opportunity to serve them,” he said.