Fort Monroe ceremony remembers fallen and pays tribute to flag

HAMPTON, Va. - Dozens gathered at Fort Monroe on Monday to honor the American flag and those who died defending it.

Nearly 400 flags were retired during the ceremony, meaning organizers and attendees cut the flags into pieces and then burned them.

"A lot of people just assume you're burning the flag. Well, we do it out of respect and reverence per the US code," said James Kotrch, one of the organizers.

The ceremony was also a solemn tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. "It brings back a lot of memories of long ago, of people who I served with," said William Corvello, a Korean War veteran.

Organizers say the flags are donated to them over the course of the year. "Memorial Day is intended for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty and freedom," said Aaron Firth, a park ranger from the National Park Service.