"I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice," Knights of Columbus member Charles Nannery read from a poem called "I Am the Flag of the USA" to a small gathering on Ocean Springs Front Beach. "I stand for freedom. I am confident, I am arrogant, I am proud."
The fourth degree is the patriotic arm of the Knights of Columbus. This year on Veteran's Day, the group decided to honor their country by retiring old flags.
"A lot of flags when they're flying them outside, the very end becomes ragged and tattered from the wind flapping it and a lot of people ignore that until it starts tearing into multiple pieces and they should be taken down once they're no longer serviceable," Nannery said.
But watching the stars and stripes burn was not easy, especially for veterans, who risked their lives protecting the flag and everything it stands for.
"I felt kind of choked up," said Father Martin Gillespie, who once served in the National Guard. "I know that we've all seen images on TV especially recently of people who don't agree with our country and our policies, they're burning the flag and to actually see a flag be set on fire, you know, it was pretty emotional."
In all, the group retired 15 flags, including several that flew at the Ocean Springs Fire Department.
"They told me it was 20 years worth of flags and they didn't know how to get rid of them, so here I am," Nannery explained.
Knights of Columbus members say part of the reason for the ceremony was to inform people about how to properly retire a flag. It's something they say a lot of people aren't aware of.
"I never thought of it, you know, what do you do with your old flags, but my mom had five of them, so this is what you do with them," Ocean Springs resident Lisa Garriga said. "You don't just throw them away."
The Knights of Columbus in Ocean Springs is considering making the flag retirement ceremony an annual event. Members say Veterans Day is a perfect time for it.