Grand Island will hold its first Watchfire flag retirement ceremony on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.
The Watchfire ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. in the parking lot of Martin's Fantasy Island, 2400 Grand Island Blvd. Islanders are asked to bring their old flags to the Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9249, 2121 Grand Island Blvd., prior to Nov. 11 for an honorable, proper retirement.
The event is a culmination of the Eagle Scout project by Islander William Soos, a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 510 out of Trinity United Methodist Church, and his father, Patrick, a retired Army veteran. The younger Soos is coordinating the Scouts for the event, while his father is working with the Island veterans at VFW Post No. 9249 and the Grand Island American Legion Post No. 1346.
Patrick Soos said Vietnam veterans started the Watchfire 30 years ago and the event in the Syracuse area draws 7,000 people.
Soos said the concept of a watchfire has some military history behind it. He said a watchfire is lit in "a military tradition to be able to return soldiers off a battlefield during hours of darkness." According to the Vietnam Veterans of America Central New York Chapter No. 103 website, "Using that time honored model symbolically, we use the warmth and light of our Watchfire to guide everyone to join us in reflection of those comrades who have gone before us and made our nation strong through their service and sacrifice."