The first time I experienced it was this past spring. It was a hot, muggy day and I was heading back to our resort for some much needed down time before dinner. Walking quickly through the Emporium, mainly for the cool air it provided, I began to hear the sounds of a brass band which grew louder the closer I got to town square. Curious as to the origins of the music, I made my way towards the exit where just outside stood a moderate crowd peering up at the train station.
Still not knowing what was going on, I wound my way through the crowd to the front where I noticed all of the citizens of Main Street had also gathered. They too were looking up at the band who, at that moment, began to play America the Beautiful. It was then that I realized that I was about to witness one of the first Disney World traditions, the Flag Retreat.
I still get goosebumps when I reminisce on that ceremony. The Main Street Philharmonic dressed in their formal jackets and shakos. The young guest plucked from the crowd for her knowledge of the Pledge of Allegiance and willingness to recite it. The playing of the Star Spangled Banner as the color guard lowers the flag and then, in unison, the crowd joining in for the singing of God Bless America.
As the ceremony drew to a close, a veteran was honored for his service and the band broke out into a patriotic medley based on the melody of Cohan's "You're a Grand Old Flag." From start to finish, the entire ceremony only lasted about ten minutes but it was by far one of the most patriotic experiences of my life.
|Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat|
While the crowd began to disperse, I stood there for a moment and tried to, for the first time in my life, take in the entirety of Town Square. I saw the Fire Station and Chamber of Commerce; the Barber Shop and City Hall. I tried to imagine my life being lived in a small town where ceremony's such as this flag retreat would bring the community together in the square and bind us to a common cause. It's a tradition that is gravely missed in our country yet one that I will never forget I was able to witness in the Magic Kingdom's Town Square.
Next time you're there, just before the clock strikes five, do yourself a favor. Head over to Town Square and take a few minutes out of your day to celebrate our great country. You'll be glad that you did.
As always, thanks for reading.