MARION - Throughout this country's history, the American flag has been viewed as a symbol of endurance.
That was literally the truth Monday on Flag Day, as Heartland Regional Medical Center officers and staff hosted a ceremony to retire and soon encase the American flag raised in front of the hospital that endured the May 8, 2009, storm.
"This flag flew over the hospital that day and took quite a beating. But like this country, it survives," said Philip Dionne, Heartland's chief executive officer.
Dionne was master of ceremonies for a service that included participation from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1301 of Marion and Marion Boy Scouts Troop 7021.
"This flag is a symbol of all that is sacred to us," said Roger Hines, a quartermaster from the VFW post in his remarks to the audi-ence.
Hines also spoke of the 13 folds of the flag and what it represents - a symbol of life, eternal life, veterans departing our ranks, divine guidance from God, a tribute to our country, where our heart lies, a tribute to our armed forces, a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, womanhood, a tribute to the father, Old Testament belief, Christianity and its final appearance of a cocked hat reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones.
State Rep. John Bradley, D-Marion, briefly spoke saying the flag symbolizes our liberties and stands for the courage of men and women who serve in the armed forces.
At the end of the service, the flag was given to Rachel Kozuszek, an Army veteran who now works in the hospital's medical records office.
Heartland's marketing director Suzie Wood said Heartland employees came up with the idea to showcase the flag and choose Ko-zuszek to accept it. It will be encased in the hospital lobby.